The Hobonichi Techo has earned a cult following and become a global lifestyle icon over the past twenty years. It is a recent favorite of mine and has been permanently inducted into my stationery collection.
So what is a Hobonichi Techo? It is a Japanese daily planner known for its minimal and functional design. While it may look like an ordinary planner at first glance, using a Hobonichi Techo reveals the thoughtful details that make it such a beloved daily companion.
- What is the Hobonichi Techo?
- Anatomy of the Hobonichi Techo
- A6 Original and Cousin
- Hobonichi Techo Weeks
- Hobonichi Techo Weeks Mega
- Hobonichi Techo Day-Free Planner
- Hobonichi Techo Plain Notebook
- Hobonichi 5-Year Techo
- How to Use Your Hobonichi Techo
- Hobonichi Techo Accessories
- History of the Hobonichi Techo
What is the Hobonichi Techo?
The Hobonichi Techo comes in three different models: the A6 Planner (English) and Original (Japanese Monday Start, Japanese Sunday Start, and Simplified Chinese), the A5 Cousin (Japaneseand Simplified Chinese), and the narrower Weeks (Japanese) and Weeks Mega (Japanese).
So let’s look more closely at each option
Anatomy of the Hobonichi Techo
A6 Original and Cousin
There are three available sizes: the A6 Planner; the A5 Cousin; and the narrower Weeks and Weeks Mega. The A6 Planner is approximately 4” x 6”. It’s thicker and slightly larger than a Field Notes pocket notebook, but still fits comfortably in a purse or backpack.
The A5 Cousin is comparable to a small composition book or a large journal. It is twice the size of the A6 Original and A6 Planner, giving you plenty of space to plan and record your day.
The Weeks and Weeks Mega are agenda books about the size of a woman’s continental wallet. Although they are slim, they have ample room for you to schedule and organize your week.
The outer covers of the Hobonichi Techo books are made of leather-inspired cardstock, while the inner pages are printed on Tomoe River Paper. This incredibly thin paper helps keep the Techo compact—the entire book contains over 400 pages and weighs only 7.3 ounces. Tomoe River Paper is bleed-resistant and great for almost any pen, including fountain pens. The page corners are rounded to minimize creasing when you carry it around.
Durable stitch binding helps the Hobonichi withstand daily use, while allowing it to lay completely flat on your desk. Also referred to as “180-degree binding,” it lets you write comfortably wherever you go.
Yearly Calendar Pages
Open up the planner and you’ll see a double-page spread that contains the yearly calendar from January to December. It’s a helpful reference when you just need a quick glance at the entire year’s dates. The Japanese-language books include the previous, current, and following years.
Yearly Index Pages
The next eight pages contain sixteen months, spanning from December to March. It can be a helpful table of contents or a place to write down birthdays.
Monthly Calendar Pages
Each month of the year also gets its own double-page spread. Use it to track things like a monthly phone bill or a recurring weekly meeting.
Weekly Calendar Pages (A5 Cousin-Only)
Only available in the A5 Cousin book, the Weekly Calendar pages are useful for managing detailed schedules for the week. The pages are labeled from 5 AM to 4 AM the following day, allowing you to record all of your plans.
The heart of the Hobonichi Techo lies in the daily pages. Hobonichi specifically designed the daily page format in a way that encourages you to document little moments of your day-to-day life.
Date & Day of the Year
Large, easy-to-see date and week numbers are printed in the upper left-hand corner. For instance, in 2021 June 6th was the 157th day of the year. (Always is except for leap years).
Stargazers will appreciate the lunar phase and day of the year printed at the top of each page.
A flexible timeline rests at the left edge of the page. In the English A6 Planner, 12:00 noon is the only time printed, which divides the day into morning and afternoon halves while remaining open enough to fit your schedule. In the Japanese Hobonichi Techo books, every three-hour interval is marked on the daily timeline.
Appearing only in the English A6 Planner book, this tiny fork-and-knife symbol marks a space near the bottom of the page. Perfect for foodies, this section can be used to record memorable meals, dinner dates, or family meal plans.
The main body of the daily page is printed with a subtle, dashed grid. Slightly smaller than the US standard 5 mm, the 4 mm graph is visible enough to help you write straight but light enough to be disregarded.
Colored tabs are numbered with months of the year. These tabs make it easier to flip through your planner to find a specific entry.
Each double-page spread contains one interesting quote, hand-picked from the Hobonichi website. The A6 Planner’s (English) quotes are carefully translated into English.
The two dates of the current spread are circled on a mini calendar of the month, which is printed on the lower right corner.
Sundays in Red
Whereas normal days are printed in charcoal gray, all Sundays in the planner are printed in bright red. Not only does this create visual contrast, it also signals the beginning of a fresh new week. In the Japanese A6 Original Avec and A5 Cousin, Sundays are not indicated in red on daily pages. They are marked in red in the monthly views. For the Cousin, Sundays are also printed in red in the Weekly Diary section.
Coming Up (English)/Remember This (Japanese)
At the beginning of each month, an empty lined page invites you to plan ahead. You can jot down your goals, tentative plans, and other thoughts here. The English A6 Planner has a “Coming Up” page at the beginning of each month for you to jot down important dates, to-do lists, and other notes needed to plan ahead. In the Japanese A6 Original Avec and A5 Cousin books, you will see blank pages with monthly quotes instead of lined pages.
Toward the back of the Hobonichi Techo Planner, you’ll find these helpful reference pages. These pages show up in both English and Japanese versions of the book.
17 dot grid pages located after the last day of December can hold miscellaneous notes, lists, daydreams, and doodles. The Japanese books have graph, not dot grid memo pages.
A helpful conversion table lists data for length, area, weight, and more. It also has a convenient ruler in both centimeters and inches.
Enter your name and current contact information on this page in case your planner gets lost or misplaced.
Keep a list of whatever you’d like on this page—books you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, or other any other bucket list!
English-Only (A6 Planner) Pages
International Size Charts
For traveling fashionistas, this page has many detailed size charts for men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.
The Japanese Bread Shop
This page gives an introduction to delightful Japanese breads.
Japanese-Only (A6 Original and A5 Cousin) Pages
These pages are only available in the A6 Original and A5 Cousin books. They are written in Japanese. Non-Japanese speakers will be able to use some of the pages, but the pages that explain various parts of Japanese culture require a certain level of Japanese language comprehension.
If you have a recurring weekly or daily event, stick it into these timetables. For example, you can write down your favorite TV show times or daily chores.
When you’re working towards a goal, use the graph paper to track your progress. The X-axis contains 31 boxes to cover a one-month span.
Rank your favorite movies, books, songs, restaurants, games, and more on the Favorites page.
The East Asian lunisolar calendar is quite complex–this page explains the names and origins of the terms in the calendar.
Make sure you have all the items on this checklist in case of emergency.
When you receive gifts, record them on this page so you don’t forget who gave it to you. This is particularly helpful when writing Thank You cards.
If you need to figure out someone’s age quickly, this table lists birth year in one column and age in 2018 in the next. The number to the left is the corresponding Japanese Imperial Era calendar year, while the character to the right is the Chinese Zodiac sign.
Getting the Most of Hobonichi
This page has an introduction to the Hobonichi company and tips to enjoy your Hobonichi Techo.
Weather Terms for your Techo
These terms for the weather will help expand your vocabulary and add detail to your diary.
Basic Posture Techniques
Posture tips from a personal trainer can help energize you and prevent injury.
Finding New “Likes”
Experts in “rakugo” (Japanese comedic storytelling), art, and classic films provide thoughtful recommendations to help you find interesting new media.
Hobonichi Techo Weeks
Hobonichi Techo Weeks is a slim alternative for those who prefer to view their entire week on one page. It includes many signature features of the regular A6 Techo, but in a condensed format. Currently, the Techo Weeks is printed entirely in Japanese.
Cover and Appearance
Since it does not dedicate one full page to each day, the Techo Weeks is more understated and compact. Simple textured covers are embossed with the current year on both the front and spine. Choose from a variety of stylish cover colors.
While the regular A6 Techo measures 4″ x 6″ and about 4.5″ x 6.5″ with a cover, the slender Weeks measures 3.8″ x 7.4″. This narrow size is a better fit for purses and small backpacks.
On the inside, the planner contains 240 pages of smooth Tomoe River Paper. Soft cream-colored pages are warm and easy on the eyes.
Each planner comes with a clear adhesive pocket, which can be affixed to the inside cover and used to hold receipts, tickets, and other small items.
Left Side Pages
The left side features a structured weekly schedule that begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. The traditional name of the month is at the top of the page. Two subtle dots placed on the horizontal lines help divide your days into morning, afternoon, and evening. Each left page also has the moon phases, a weekly quote, and Sunday printed in red.
Right Side Pages
The right side has a free space for brainstorming, doodling, and writing notes. It is printed in subtle 3.55 mm dashed grid, which is slightly narrower than the regular A6 Techo’s 4 mm grid. A slightly darker “secret line” subtly divides the space into optional header and detail sections, and a mini monthly calendar is printed in the bottom corner.
Calendar and Index Pages
Three calendar layouts are placed at the front of the planner. The Yearly Calendar shows the entire year on one double-page spread. The Monthly Index and Monthly Calendar are designed for scheduling and long-term planning.
If you need space for notes and drawings, use the 68 empty pages towards the back of the planner. You’ll also find handy reference pages with interesting information, such as tips on using common items to measure size, a conversion table, and more.
Hobonichi Techo Weeks Mega
Hobonichi Techo Weeks Mega is a more substantial version of the standard Weeks. It contains three times the number of free graph pages than the standard Weeks to give you plenty of space for journaling and drawing. All of its other features are the same as the standard Weeks.
Extra Memo Pages
The Weeks Mega contains a generous 210 pages of the versatile dashed grid memo pages. This gives you plenty of room for chronicling your thoughts and sketching out plans.
Even with the huge increase in pages, its super-thin Tomoe River paper keeps the Weeks Mega from getting too thick or heavy to carry easily. It only weighs about 2 ounces more than the standard Weeks.
Hobonichi Techo Day-Free Planner
The Day-Free is an undated alternative for planner users who want more flexibility. The “daily” pages feature graph paper, but it comes with a yearly calendar, yearly index, monthly calendar, and all the other informational pages of the Japanese planner.
Cover and Appearance
The Day-Free cover is a cheerful blue with cream accents.
Similar to an Avec, the Day-Free is around half the thickness of a full-year Techo in both A5 and A6 sizes.
The A6 Day-Free has 240 pages, while the A5 size has 244. All feature silky cream-colored Tomoe River paper.
The blank graph paper pages of the Day-Free are enhanced by page numbers, daily quotes in Japanese, and a slightly darker “secret line” that can be used to split each page into a header and detail section.
The bottom right of each spread features a flipbook sequence of the adorable Dancing Fox, illustrated by Aki Kondo.
Calendar and Index Pages
The yearly calendar spread shows three years at once, while the yearly index spans four pages with four months per page. The monthly calendars span from December 2020 to March 2022.
Hobonichi Techo Plain Notebook
The Hobonichi Techo Plain Notebook is completely filled with the 3.7 mm plain graph paper of the Original Hobonichi Techo.
Cover and Sizes
The A6 size is 240 pages, while the A5 size is 288 pages, comparable to the Avec or Day-Free planners.
The ink color of the Plain Notebook changes for each quarter of the book, proceeding from red to blue to green to purple. This makes it easy to split one notebook into multiple themes.
Pair with Another Techo
The Plain Notebook can easily fit in a cover along an Avec or even squeeze in next to a full-size planner for a convenient expansion of your writing capabilities.
Hobonichi 5-Year Techo
Hobonichi 5-Year Techo is perfect for the archivist who enjoys looking back on past years while recording present memories and events. The 5-Year Techo is only available in Japanese. These pictures feature the 2020-2014 book.
Cover and Appearance
Inspired by old dictionaries and Bibles, the soft textured brown cover is pleasant to the touch. It has “Hobonichi 5-Year Techo” pressed in gold foil on the front and the years on the spine.
The regular A6 Techo measures 4″ x 6″ while the A6 5-Year Techo is slightly wider at 4.5″ x 6″. The A5 5-Year Techo is a bit larger at 6.2″ x 8.4″, a bit larger than the A5 Cousin (5.8″ x 8.3″).
This planner contains 752 pages of smooth Tomoe River Paper. Like the Techo Weeks, it features soft cream-colored pages. Each month is printed at the edge of the page for easy reference.
Included in each box is a manual that explains how to use the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo.
Left Side Pages
The left side pages are printed with the same date across five years, with the day and month at the top, and the year and day of the week in each section. You can fill each day up or just write a sentence.
Right Side Pages
The right side are memo pages for brainstorming, doodling, and writing notes. It is printed in subtle 3.7 mm dashed grid, the same as the Original and Cousin books. Daily quotes are printed at the bottom of the page.
Five calendar layouts are placed at the front of the planner. Each year spans one page.
At the end of the book, Hobonichi included bonus pages to help you reflect and stay organized, like Remember This, Gifts, and Personal Notes.
How to Use Your Hobonichi Techo
The Hobonichi Techo was designed to be a daily planner, so it’s no surprise that most people use it to organize their day-to-day lives. Busy students, teachers, and parents all appreciate its versatile format. The timeline and grid layout are especially helpful when blocking out specific times for appointments.
The Hobonichi Techo A5 Cousin is great for those who prefer the big-picture view of their weekly plans. Schedule appointments and meetings with this full two-page spread. Then use the free space on the right side for doodles, impromptu notes, or miscellaneous trinkets.
Writers and journalers can use the Hobonichi Techo as a diary. At first you might feel limited by the one-page-per-day layout, especially in comparison to an undated journal, but over time you’ll appreciate how it encourages you to write thoughtfully and concisely.
A daily planner is a great way to build good habits. Whether you’re hoping to maintain a weekly exercise regimen, practice mindfulness, or eat healthier meals, tracking your progress can hold you accountable to your goals.
If you love crafting, you can turn your planner into a year-long scrapbook. Record everyday moments by taping movie tickets, receipts, and photos into your planner. At the end of the year, you’ll love looking back on all the memories you’ve collected.
Artists can use their Hobonichi Techo planner as an art journal. The daily page format can motivate you to make one drawing, painting, or doodle every day. As the year goes by, watch your creative skills improve.
Hobonichi Techo Accessories
Hobonichi Techo Covers are a stylish way to protect your planner. An assortment of attractive cover colors and designs is released each year.
There are a few different options.
- There is the classic covers that will fit the A5 and A6 sizes and are usually a single plain color.
- The classic style with a pattern.
- The Cover on Cover that is meant to be used on top of the classic covers mentioned above.
- The clear Weeks covers
Two wide pen loops can accommodate most pens. They also function as a way to keep your planner closed; just thread your pen through both loops.
Keep one bookmark in the monthly calendar and move the other one each day to the current date.
Front Cover Card Slots
The front inside cover has 5 slots for business cards, loyalty cards, stamps, and other small items.
Front Cover Pocket
Tucked behind the card slots is a larger pocket, which can hold items like receipts and coupons.
Back Cover Pockets
The back cover also has two pockets for larger items like tickets and leaflets.
Large Outer Pocket
This easy-access pocket can snugly hold one A4-sized sheet folded into quarters.
If you’re looking for a specific cover or one from past years I find Etsy has a lot of great options, but keep in mind that the more rare they become the more expensive they’ll be.
This simple clear cover is meant to be an additional layer of protection for your cover and Hobonichi. It is also a less expensive way to change out the style of your cover by opting for a design instead of splurging on a completely new cover. New designs are released every year.
Shitajiki means Pencil board in Japanese. This simple piece of plastic can save your pages from becoming unnecessarily crumped or creased while you write in your planner. There are simple ones like the example below, but new designs are also released every year while collabs and fun looks.
Give a fun touch to your journal with fun stamps that add an accent or draws attention to important information.
You can use any pen to record memories and events in your Hobonichi, but here are some favorites to get you started:
- Multi Pen: Use a customizable or pre-installed multi pen to color code your tasks and to-do list.
- Fountain Pen: Because it’s made with Tomoe River Paper, you can use your favorite fountain pens in your Hobonichi Techo.
- Gel Pen: Smooth-writing gel pens will make writing a joy, and an archival gel pen can even preserve your diary entries for years to come.
- Marker/Brush Pen: If you want more color choices to spice up your planner, go with a vibrant marker or brush pen set.
- Highlighter: Subtle pastel highlighters help you stay organized while staying true to the planner’s minimal aesthetic.
Stickers are a fun and easy way to add quick visuals to your planner. Here, we used translucent circle stickers and small icon stickers to mark dates in our monthly calendar. You can also use stickers to add whimsical touches to your daily pages.
Use strips of washi tape to divide your planner into sections, or secure tickets and memorabilia. You can also write directly on the tapes to create DIY labels (the Pilot Twin Marker is our favorite pen for writing on washi tapes).
History of the Hobonichi Techo
The Hobonichi Techo is made by Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun (ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞), a website and lifestyle brand curated by Japanese copywriter Shigesato Itoi. The website, which is commonly known as Hobonichi (ほぼ日), is an interesting mix of editorials, interviews, and informative articles.
One day, the Hobonichi editorial staff held a simple reader poll: Would you be interested in a planner? With a resounding 90% “yes” vote, they began brainstorming. Their goal was to create a simple planner that could appeal to users of any age, gender, or profession.
Later that year, the very first Hobonichi Techo was released to the Japanese market. The name comes from the word Hobonichi (ほぼ日), meaning “almost everyday,” and techo (手帳), meaning “planner.” It was eventually joined by other size formats—the larger Hobonichi Cousin, 2-volume Hobonichi Avec, and slender Hobonichi Weeks.
Demand soon arose for an English version of the Hobonichi Techo. In 2012 Hobonichi teamed up with Sonya Park, owner of the Japanese brand ARTS&SCIENCE. Sonya provided creative direction for the English edition, meticulously tweaking little features to make Japan’s best-selling planner fit in seamlessly with the English-speaking market. The tri-key ARTS&SCIENCE logo printed on the front cover is a nod to Sonya’s dedication.
Every single Hobonichi Techo planner is still printed in Japan, but its user base has gone global. There are now over half a million Hobonichi Techo users around the world, and each year more people are drawn to its practical design.
Are you a Hobonichi Techo fan? I’d love to hear how you’ve adapted the planner for use in your daily life!
The Official Hobonichi Techo Website provides in-depth information about the planner, plus curated examples showing how the Hobonichi Techo is used by fans around the world.