The Kokuyo Jibun Techo offers a unique approach to planner systems. Rather than being limited to a single calendar year, the Jibun Techo is designed to last your whole life. In Japanese, “jibun” (ジブン) means “myself” and “techo” (手帳) means planner. True to its name, this planner system is customizable to your lifestyle and needs.
Its innovative 3-in-1 system was first developed by advertising creator Hideaki Sakuma and consists of three separate booklets: “Diary” for everyday scheduling, “LIFE” for life events, and “IDEA” for thoughts, memories, and everything else. You can fit one, two, or all three of these booklets into a single cover. The Jibun Techo offers a variety of covers as well as accessories to help you set up your planner. Kokuyo also offers starter kits for beginners who are new to the system. All Jibun Techo items are only available in Japanese but for the most part, I think they’re easily translated in Google Translate and won’t hinder your planning or creativity.
I wanted to break down the contents and explain each page in detail because that is something I was desperately looking for before I decided on a planner.
Keep reading below to find out more about this one-of-a-kind planner system.
Please note that the pictures in this guide may feature covers and accessories from previous releases. I try my best to stay up-to-date but there are just too many planners to cover and too little time.
Jibun Techo Covers
Kokuyo offers several covers of various sizes, colors, and finishes to choose from. They’ve also curated a starter kit that includes multiple booklets and accessories.
If you’re just starting out with the Jibun Techo, this kit has everything you need: all three booklets (Diary, LIFE, and IDEA) and a matte clear softcover. It also includes a shitajiki (writing board) with an elastic band that slides into the back vertical pocket to keep the cover closed. The shitajiki can be used as a ruler.
The Standard Cover comes with a Diary Booklet (see the Anatomy section for more details). It is a clear, matte softcover with colored paper underneath. Don’t be fooled by its simple design—it has a variety of pockets, including a horizontal front pocket, vertical back pocket, and card slots.
Unlike the Standard Cover, the Pale Cover is made of opaque, shimmering plastic. The interior of the cover has a soft, suede-like texture. If you want your Jibun Techo to stand out, this is the cover for you.
Designed to fit into the busy life of a working professional, the Biz Cover is accompanied by the Biz Diary booklet (see the Anatomy section for more details). The soft cover mimics the look of leather and comes in a range of classic colors.
The Lite Diary is a simplified planner. The soft-touch cover comes in a variety of shades with contrasting endpages. Two bookmarks are attached to the cover. It’s meant to be used on its own, so it’s not refillable or compatible with Clear Covers. See the Anatomy section for a look inside.
The DAYs Diary is a set of two half-year daily planners (see the Anatomy section for more details). It comes with one cover to transfer between planners in the middle of the year. Like the Standard cover, the DAYs cover is clear with colored paper and convenient pockets. It is only available in the B6 size.
Despite its name, the Hard Cover is a semi-flexible, zippered case made of textured fabric. On the outside, it has a large horizontal pocket that runs the width of the cover. The pocket is great for storing items you need quick access to. Inside the cover, there is one large pocket on either side, as well as a pen loop wide enough to fit oversized pens. The zipper has a stopper to prevent you from accidentally zipping over the bookmarks attached to the Diary booklet, which is sold separately. The Hard Cover is perfect for people on the go who prefer a simple cover that will keep their notebook, writing utensil, and ephemera tucked away neatly.
The Soft Cover is made of smooth fabric and has an elastic band to keep it shut. A large pocket stretches along the outside of the cover for items you need quick access to. Inside, there are three card pockets on the left side and one vertical pocket on the right side. There is a large pen loop that sticks out from the side of the cover, which means your pen is always within reach. The Soft Cover is sold separately from the booklets. This cover is a great fit for people looking to keep important items like library cards and their planner in one place.
The 2021 Soft Cover is a sleek update of the Soft Cover. Its pocket layout is unchanged and just as well suited to organization, but its exterior is made of matte water-resistant fabric in new three colors. It comes in gray, blue, and yellow, with tasteful gray elastic closures and interiors.
Anatomy of the Jibun Techo Notebooks
The core of the Jibun Techo is its three booklets: Diary, LIFE, and IDEA. Diary is the only book that needs to be repurchased yearly, but the other two are meant to last a lifetime—or at least until you run out of pages. Let’s take a look at the features of each booklet.
|Diary||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo THIN|
|Biz Diary||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo MIO|
|Lite Diary||Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo THIN|
|DAYs Diary||Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo THIN|
|LIFE||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo MIO|
|IDEA||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim||Kokuyo THIN|
The booklets are available in two sizes: A5 Slim and Mini B6 Slim. Because the booklets are slimmer than standard A and B paper sizes, they slip easily into bags and portfolios.
Kokuyo employs two kinds of paper in the Jibun Techo: THIN and MIO PAPER. The Diary, Lite, DAYs, and IDEA use THIN PAPER, while the Biz Diary and LIFE use MIO PAPER.
Kokuyo’s THIN PAPER was developed specifically for the Jibun Techo. At just 52 gsm, it ensures that the planner is packed with pages while being light enough to carry around. The paper is bleedthrough-resistant and pairs well with fountain pens, markers, and more. The lightly textured surface provides an excellent surface for graphite. It’s also durable, holding up well to erasing—even from hard erasers like those found on the Pilot FriXion– which is what I use daily.
MIO PAPER is high-quality, fountain pen friendly, and has a pleasant texture. It absorbs ink quickly, which prevents unwanted smearing or bleeding. The paper is archival-safe and pH neutral, so you can be sure your booklets will last. MIO PAPER has a more substantial feel than Kokuyo THIN but is still lightweight.
All Jibun Techo booklets are printed with a light gray grid that is pleasant and unobtrusive. The grid in the A5 slim size is slightly larger than 3 mm, while the grid in the mini B6 is slightly smaller than 3 mm. Map pages have a grid of about 2 mm to accommodate the more complex diagrams.
The Diary booklet also comes as a standalone product. It features lay-flat binding that makes it easy to write on. The subtly rounded corners prevent fraying or creasing.
Diary Page Spread
Most of the Diary consists of a two-page weekly layout where you will do the majority of your planning. Here’s what’s included in each spread:
Besides the weekly spreads, Kokuyo has included these helpful pages in the Standard Diary:
How to Use the “Jibun Techo”
The Jibun Techo starts with a guide in Japanese to its contents, including an example page of how to use the weekly spread.
You can see three years’ worth of calendars on this spread with one large 2021 calendar and two smaller calendars for 2020 and 2022.
Use this yearly schedule spread as an index for the whole year. You can also write occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries here for a quick reference.
Find out someone’s age quickly using this table. It lists birth year in one column and age in 2020 in another. The number to the left is the corresponding Japanese Imperial Era calendar year while the character between the birth year and age is the Chinese Zodiac sign.
Write down all your goals for the year here. This page is divided into easy-to-see sections for you to better organize your goals.
Find out how much you spend each month by recording all of your expenses in this section. Maybe the results will surprise you!
Plan out your ideal schedule here. You can also write recurring tasks and meetings, or if you’re a student, your weekly class schedule.
Map of Japan and Other Maps
In the map of Japan, you can note the places you visited throughout the year. A world map with time zones and a Japanese railway map are also included.
This spread of blank checkboxes actually has room for 112 wishes, if you feel ambitious. You can also use that extra space to reflect on how your wishes were achieved.
Do you have mantras or quotes that inspire you? Keep all your favorites in this section.
Whether they’re for books, TV shows, or restaurants, note all of the recommendations you get from friends and family. There’s even a column to write who the suggestion came from. Check it off once you try it.
Book and Movie List
List books and movies you want to read and watch in this fun section. You can also write reviews or mark impressions. See where I buy my books in Tokyo on this post.
Keep track of the gifts you give and receive. This is especially helpful when you’re writing thank you cards.
It’s easy to forget verbal promises. Get in the habit of writing them down so you can refer back to this page and remember what you need to do.
This spread is completely blank for you to subdivide as you wish.
The Gantt Chart is handy for keeping track of personal projects. By subdividing the left side, you can see your progress at a glance. Use it for activities such as tracking stock prices or managing weight loss.
The Diary has a section for monthly calendars in which each month is a two-page spread. This is good for planning ahead or marking special events. It also displays the end of the previous month.
Summarize and reflect on everything you did and wrote down in your Jibun Techo Diary for the year. The next page is for things that happened in the lives of your friends and family.
Record your stats here, including contact info, personal information, bank and company contacts, and more. There’s also space for medical information. Note: we don’t recommend filling out sensitive information in case your planner is lost.
Links and More
The last page of the Diary includes a thank you note from Kokuyo for trying the Jibun Techo as well as links to the Jibun Techo Facebook and Twitter accounts. At the bottom of the page is a space for you to write your contact info in case the planner is lost.
The Biz Diary booklet is available with or without the Biz cover. It is similar in layout to the regular Diary. Differences include:
- Business-like styling with a subdued color palette.
- Traditional font type.
- Kokuyo MIO PAPER.
- Monthly tabs are one color.
- Railway and world maps are not included.
- Page titles are in both Japanese and English.
The Lite Diary is only available in the Jibun Techo Lite and cannot be purchased separately. Its simplified layout has these differences:
- Two-year calendar.
- Collective “List Of” section.
- Combined monthly calendars and Gantt chart.
- Diary page spread does not include Meal Log.
- Monthly tabs are one color.
- Maps and some other pages are not included.
- Page titles are in both Japanese and English.
DAYs page-a-day planners come as a set of two half-year planners and give you ample space to go into detail as you plan. They are the only Jibun Techos available in a daily format.
Date and Checkboxes
In the top left of each daily page is the date and a small box for weather tracking that also has the phase of the moon.
Along the left side is a row of checkboxes that becomes a mood tracker at the bottom of the page.
A column marking the hours of the day divides each page vertically. This column is colored to indicate sunrise and sunset times, although these will be accurate only if you are in Japan.
Across the top of each page runs a “future planner” with dates spanning from about a week before to two weeks after today’s date. The day number is noted in a circle above the date. Keep upcoming events in mind by making a quick note here.
In the bottom right of each spread is a miniature month calendar with the dates of the spread circled, the week highlighted, and the week number noted to the side.
Free Day Color Coding
Weekends and Japanese holidays are color-coded in the mini calendar, the future planner, and in the page colors themselves.
Monthly Index Pages
These index pages are divided into a space for goals and a space to summarize the month.
Yearly Schedule and Calendar
Like the Standard Jibun Techo, both DAYs books open with a 2020-2022 calendar spread and a yearly schedule spread that gives every day a few lines of space.
Non-planning pages in the DAYs include a “My Dream” page, a “My Event,” page, and a “100 Wishes List” spread. These are followed by six pages of “List Of” checkboxes that you can divide to track whatever you choose.
In the back of the book are three blank memo pages and an informational page about the Jibun Techo.
Both books come with monthly calendars. Book 1 spans January to June, while Book 2 spans July to December.
Monthly calendars have mood trackers in each day, as well as phases of the moon when significant. A checklist in the sidebar and a Gantt chart at the bottom of the spread fill the rest of the space.
Compact Monthly Calendars
The DAYs also includes smaller-scale calendars, two months on a spread, for a peek at the farther-flung future. With these, Book 1 covers July to December 2021, while Book 2 lets you plan for January and February 2022. These smaller calendars don’t include mood trackers or Gantt charts, but they still have plenty of checklist space.
The LIFE booklet is designed to house information that you can transfer from year to year, like anniversaries, bucket lists, and philosophies. Note that images of pages inside the LIFE booklet are from previous years, but the contents remain the same.
How to Use the “Jibun Techo” [LIFE]
The LIFE booklet also starts with a guide in Japanese on how to use it.
Write down your life goals in the left column and your game plan in the right column. Categories include family, money, health, hobbies, travel, friends, and more.
100 Wishes List
By jotting down things you want to try or bucket lists, this page becomes a reminder and motivation for you as you go through life. Check items off as you do them.
Do you have a philosophy or motto that you live by? Write those and other uplifting thoughts here so you can read them when you need encouragement.
The Life Plan presents another way to set goals for you and your family. The top two rows are for you and your spouse. Add the name of your children in the bottom four rows. Fill out the years at the top of the column and then populate the cells with your age and what you hope to accomplish (for example, buying a house, getting promoted, or a child going to college). There is also a section to plan out your expenses including living, housing, schooling, medical, insurance premiums, and income tax.
Enter important dates, birthdays, and other anniversaries in these monthly pages. The more occasions you have, the more chances you have to celebrate.
Write down where you’ve traveled or lived throughout Japan and the world. You can also indicate places you’d like to visit.
Chronicle your family’s important or newsworthy life events in this section. It also works as a growth journal for babies.
Fill out the family tree including relatives and pets—it’s fun to see where you came from. You can even draw a family crest if you have one or make one up for fun.
Emergency Contact List
There are 20 spaces available for you to write down the information of your emergency contacts.
Passwords are a necessary evil; the more complicated they are, the better. Since it’s not wise to keep all your passwords in one place, write down hints that only you can answer—that way your information won’t be compromised.
You can record bank, credit card, insurance, and any other financial information here. Note: we do not recommend filling out sensitive information in case your planner is lost.
Document your and your family’s health on this page. Write down when you’ve had doctor’s visits, colds, or injuries and the treatment received. Note: we do not recommend filling out sensitive information in case your planner is lost.
Stick one or two of your favorite photos here. If you dabble in photography, this is a great spot for your best, award-winning photo.
The IDEA booklet is for everything not covered by Diary or LIFE. This gridded notebook is ideal for recording thoughts, ideas, observations, and the occasional epiphany. You can use it as a journal, sketchbook, and more.
JIBUN TECHO GOODS (ACCESSORIES)
Dubbed “Goods” by Kokuyo, these accessories pair well with your Jibun Techo to help you use the planner to its full potential. Most of the accessories are available in both sizes, so make sure you’re getting the right size for your Jibun Techo.
|Index Tabs – Regular and Biz||One size (fits better in A5 Slim)|
|Film Sticky Notes||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim|
|ToDo Sticky Notes||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim|
|Templates – Icon and Plan||One size|
|Shitajiki (Pencil Board)||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim|
|Pat-mi Pocket Diary||One size (fits better in Mini B6 Slim)|
|Clear Cover||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim|
|Zipper Case and Pockets||A5 Slim, Mini B6 Slim|
These index tabs are meant to mark specific pages in the booklets. Some have numbers for each month. Other tabs have section names to pair with their corresponding pages. To use the index tabs, fold them over and stick them onto the pages. They come in two designs to match the Diary and Biz Diary.
Perfectly cut to fit in the columns of the Diary’s weekly or monthly pages, use the Film Sticky Notes to highlight important notes and events. They come in several bright colors and are housed in a cute protective cover.
If you often run out of space for your to-do lists, we recommend these sticky notes. They’re printed with same grid as in the Diary pages and blend in seamlessly. Use them to add extra to-do lists, grocery lists, or other reminders. They’re even perforated so you can tear them to the desired length.
The Icon and Plan templates are plastic stencils. The Icon template lets you stencil numbers, weather icons, and more. The icons are the size of four squares on the Diary grid, which is an exact fit for each day in the yearly tracker. The Plan template features geometric designs, like dashed lines, arrows, and squares sized to fit the Diary. There is also a handy ruler on one side. The templates double as bookmarks: when tucked into a booklet, the tab on the top reminds you of pages to revisit.
A shitajiki is a pencil board designed to be placed under a page as you write. This pencil board fits perfectly in Jibun Techo booklets to help you write smoothly. It prevents writing from imprinting on the next page, which is important when dealing with ultra thin paper like Tomoe River paper. It even has a “Today” tab that sticks out so you can use it as a bookmark.
This is the same matte softcover with pockets that comes with the Standard Cover and First Kit Standard sets. It doesn’t include any colored paper, so you can insert paper in the color of your choice or leave it clear. This is convenient if you want an extra cover for another booklet or just as a backup.
This accessory lets you keep small essentials with your planner. Store pens and other items in the zipper case. The pockets in the front can be used to keep business cards or other small items.
HOW TO INSERT MULTIPLE JIBUN TECHO BOOKLETS INTO A COVER
To add all three booklets in your Jibun Techo, insert the front cover of the first booklet into the left slot. Then, take the front cover of the second booklet and slide it behind the front cover of the first booklet. The back cover of the second booklet goes into the right slot. Lastly, stick the back cover of the third booklet into the right slot. If you get a starter kit, the booklets come pre-installed.
With its thoughtful and effective design, the Jibun Techo is adaptable to any lifestyle. Its three booklets let you compartmentalize and organize your life efficiently. We hope you’ve found our in-depth look useful. If you use and love a Jibun Techo, let me know in the comments below.