Japanese Planners have quickly found popularity all over the world. And while you might know a few names, like Hobonichi, or Midori, there are so many out there that you should check out. While I could go on and on forever about all of the great options for planners including the minimal Muji planners, inexpensive ones you can find at Daiso, or well-known and loved brands like Nolty or Rollbahn, I wanted to focus on arguably the top four most well-known Japanese Planner brands and break down all of the various options they offer. Because, if you scroll down, there are so. Many. Options.  And only you know which planner will work best for you and which style suits your taste.  So, without going on and on, here are, in my opinion, the best Japanese planners.


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If you just want to see the planners I chose here’s the TLDR: 

Further down I go into detail about what each planner to help you in choosing your next one. 

What to Think About when Choosing a Planner:

Format: 

Standard planners come in one of three formats: daily, weekly, or monthly. Most daily and weekly planners also include monthly calendars so you can plan events and projects in advance. And some planners, like the Hobonichi cousin, have monthly, weekly, and daily pages all in one planner which is a great option for those who want versatility or who need all of that space to keep track of their busy schedules.

Daily planners, as you’d guess, dedicate one page per day. Creative journalers and artists will find daily planners useful. With so much free space, journal entries and drawings will have plenty of room to fit. This is how I use the daily pages of the Hobonichi A6: using it to journal and document my life for posterity and as a creative outlet. But you can also use the daily pages to help you get even more organized, by allowing you to focus on one day at a time and having a large amount of space for your schedule and to-do lists.

To visualize an entire week in an efficient way, weekly planners fit the bill. Some use a vertical format that is often accompanied by an hourly tracker. A horizontal weekly planner can be designed in one of two ways: the week taking up the left and right page, or the week on the left and a blank page on the right. This is how my Kokuyo Jibun Techo is set up.  I use this as my function planner to keep track of our schedule and my tasks and to do lists.  If I didn’t have this planner my life would almost literally fall apart, or, more realistically, I would just be pretty unproductive and my kids would be late to a lot of things.  I like the weekly view because I can get a good picture of the week and where we are at any time.  And I like the weekly to do list because I just work better knowing if I really can’t get to a task that day, I have the next day to do it, whereas when I tried to use a daily planner, I felt unproductive if I had to copy over my to do list to the next day many times in a row.  

long-term planner is not generally used for everyday tasks. Rather, it allows you to write a short paragraph about a given day over a span of time. You can use it to show fitness progress, keep a record of a child’s early years, or write about your growth.  I don’t personally use a long-term planner but because I daily journal in my hobonichi, I’m essentially doing the same thing, just in multiple planners.  That’s the benefit of a dedicated long-term planner: they are usually smaller (because there’s less space given for each day) and they’re only one book so you don’t have to keep buying or replacing planners each year and all of your memories are compiled into one place. 

Dated or Undated

dated planner is printed with the date and month for a given year. You can jump straight into planning without filling anything out. However, a dated planner can only be used for a specific year. I always use dated planners because I tend to be lazy and want most of this done for me.  Plus I like using them as reference for future events without needing to take the time to fill anything out.

An undated planner is an excellent choice for those who may not need dedicated daily, weekly, or monthly pages. For example, students who don’t take classes over the summer might prefer an undated planner. You can fill in the dates on an undated planner, so you can start it and skip pages whenever you want. I know a lot of people who love undated planners for their versatility and the ability to “skip” days without having blank pages in the planner and feeling like you’ve wasted money.

Size

The size of your planner is a major consideration. A remote freelancer needs a planner that’s different from one used by a traveling worker. Having an A4 planner instead of a B6 one could make or break your carry-on luggage!  One of the reasons I chose the Jibun Techo was because of its slim size.  Not only does its slim size fit easily in my bag, but its thin paper means the entire planner is thin and lightweight. I used an Erin Condren Lifeplanner for a while but quickly found it wouldn’t work for me.  I never wanted to take it out of the house, let alone travel with it, so it just wasn’t fitting my needs. I was happy to find most Japanese planners are more compact so I never worry about leaving my books at home. 

If you find yourself doing most of your planning at your desk, larger A4 or A5 planners give you plenty of space to develop your thoughts. For those looking for portability, an A6 planner fits neatly in a briefcase, backpack, or purse and is light enough to be nearly unnoticeable.

Some planners come in altered or slim sizes that help make them easier to carry around. However, because these notebooks are non-standard, they may require a proprietary cover or simply don’t fit in one at all. Check the dimensions to make sure a planner fits the cover of your choice.

Paper

Planners with high-quality paper perform well with all kinds of writing instruments and art supplies. Smooth, ink-resistant paper makes your writing experience more enjoyable. Not only will you be less likely to run into issues with ink feathering or bleeding through the page, you will also enjoy writing down the tasks you need to complete.  The thickness of the paper also plays into the size and portability of your planner, so you’ll want to take that into consideration as well. 

Now let’s get into the specifics of each planner.  

Hobonichi Techo

Hobonichi planners are extraordinarily popular and might be the most well-known Japanese planner brand. Each planner is packed with ultra-thin Tomoe River paper, which reduces bulk while staying remarkably resistant to ink. Creative journalers can fill the pages with markers, colored pencils, and even light watercolor washes. You can learn more about the Hobonichi Techo by reading my guide.

If you find your Hobonichi Techo becoming bulky over the course of the year, the Avec splits the year into two booklets. The A5 Cousin and A6 Original both come in Avec versions.

The A6 Hobonichi Techo is available in Japanese or English. The Japanese-language Hobonichi Techo Original is available as a Monday- or Sunday-start version. It also has a slightly different daily format and smaller grid size.

Daily Hobonichi’s

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo CousinDailyA5Comes with or without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dated weekly section with vertical hourly tracker in front
Gridded pages in back
Informational pages
Hobonichi Techo OriginalDailyA6Comes with or without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dot grid pages in back
Informational pages
Hobonichi Techo PlannerDailyA6Comes with or without cover
English-language version of the A6 Hobonichi Techo
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dot grid pages in back
Informational pages

Buy now on Amazon US, Amazon Japan, or Etsy.

Weekly Hobonichi’s

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo WeeksHalf Horizontal WeeklyMediumTomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Sticker pocket
Hobonichi Techo Weeks MegaHalf Horizontal WeeklyMediumTomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Three times as many grid pages in back
Informational pages
Sticker pocket

Buy Now on Amazon US, Amazon Japan, or Etsy.

Monthly Hobonichi

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo Day-FreeMonthlyA5A6Comes without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Gridded pages
Informational pages

Buy Now on Amazon US, Amazon Japan, or Etsy.

Kokuyo Jibun Techo

The Kokuyo Jibun Techo is a weekly planner that uses a vertical, hourly format. There are four versions available: the Standard, Biz, Lite, and DAYs. You can learn more about the Jibun Techo in my comprehensive guide.

The Standard First Kit is a planner system that you can carry from one year to the next. It also includes the Idea and Life booklets, which help you keep track of life’s meaningful experiences. Its refreshing palette of blues and oranges make every page stand out. The Standard and Pale covers remove the extra booklets for a slimmer planner, but you can always add the booklets if you prefer.

For business professionals, the Biz has a monochromatic look. The Lite is a simplified version that fits in backpacks and purses with ease, making it an excellent academic planner. The Biz and Lite are meant to be used by themselves for a sleek planner that can be carried anywhere.

The DAYs is Kokuyo’s take on a daily planner. It splits the year into two six-month booklets that can be swapped out of the included cover.

Kokuyo Jibun Techo Pale, Standard, Biz, and Lite

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Jibun Techo First Kit StandardVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimComprehensive three-book planning system
Plastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Writing board with elastic band
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo Diary Pale CoverVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimPlastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo Diary Standard CoverVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimPlastic and paper cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo BizVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimSlim size
Plastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo MIO paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo LiteVertical WeeklyMini B6 SlimSlim, portable size
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages

Buy now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Kokuyo Jibun Techo Days Diary

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Jibun Techo DAYs DiaryDailyMini B6 SlimSlim, portable size
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Informational pages

Kokuyo Campus Diary Free- Monthly

If you like Kokuyo’s Campus notebooks, you’ll enjoy the matching Campus Diary Free Schedule. These simple notebooks are great student planners. A Year index and monthly calendars can be filled with essay deadlines and exam dates without wasting pages over the summer break.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Campus Diary Free Monthly ScheduleMonthlySemi B5, A5, B6Cardstock cover
Year index
Lined pages in back

Buy Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Kokuyo Pat-mi Pocket Diary

The innovative Pat-mi Pocket Diary is a monthly calendar and vertical weekly planner in one! Each week has an hourly tracker per day while leaving the rest of the month visible. It’s an excellent planner addition that can help you visualize future events, but is also useful on its own. The Pat-mi Pocket Diary can be tucked into the back cover of a Jibun Techo, or any notebook that is B6 or larger.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Pat-mi Pocket DiaryMonthly, Vertical WeeklyB6 ModifiedCardstock cover
Hourly trackers

Traveler’s Company 

The Traveler’s Company Traveler’s notebook is a vintage-inspired, refillable notebook system. The high-quality leather cover uses elastic bands to attach various notebooks, allowing you to completely customize what you carry. It’s not just a good option for travelers—those who like everything they need for a day in one place will also enjoy the Traveler’s notebook and its accessories. You can use a combination of planners and notebooks to catch all your thoughts.

Read my Traveler’s Notebook Guide.

Traveler’s Notebook Monthly Planner

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Monthly PlannerMonthlyRegularPassportTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Blank pages in back
Informational pages
Sheet of decorative stickers

Shop now on Amazon US, Amazon JP or Etsy.

Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Vertical Planner 

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly Vertical PlannerVertical WeeklyRegularTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Hourly trackers
Sheet of decorative stickers

Buy Now from Amazon US or Etsy.

Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Planner

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly PlannerHorizontal WeeklyPassportTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Sheet of decorative stickers

Buy Now from Etsy or Amazon Japan.

Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Planner with Memo

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly Planner with MemoHalf Horizontal WeeklyRegularTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Sheet of decorative stickers

Buy Now from Amazon US, Amazon Japan, or Etsy.

These Traveler’s notebook refills are undated versions of the planner booklets mentioned above. Each notebook except for the Free Daily Planner Grid has enough pages to use it for six months.

Traveler’s notebook Free Daily Planner Grid

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Daily Planner GridDailyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Covers two months

Buy Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Traveler’s notebook Free Monthly Planner

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Monthly PlannerMonthlyRegular, PassportCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Grid pages in front

Buy Passport Size Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Buy Regular Size Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly PlannerFull Horizontal WeeklyPassportCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index

Buy Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner with Memo

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner with MemoHalf Horizontal WeeklyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Grid pages in front

Buy Now from Amazon US or Amazon Japan.

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Vertical Planner

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Vertical PlannerVertical WeeklyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index

Buy Now from Amazon US or Amazon JP.

Midori

Don’t let the plain appearance of the Midori MD Diary fool you: these planners are packed with Midori’s luxurious MD paper. The cream-colored pages pair well with fountain pens and evoke the feeling of vintage books. The minimalist aesthetic is thoughtfully designed to provide just enough structure for planning. The undated pages in the back can be used as a weekly planner. The Thin sizes trade ruled pages for grid paper.

Midori MD Diary, Diary Thin

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori MD DiaryMonthlyA5, B6 Slim, A6Cardstock cover
Bookmark
Midori MD paper
Lined and blank pages in back
Stickers to label cover and spine
Midori MD Diary – ThinMonthlyA4, A5 ThinSlim size
Cardstock cover
Bookmark
Midori MD paper
Grid pages in back
Stickers to label cover and spine

Buy Now from Amazon Japan. Or look on JetPens.

Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary

From left to right: Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary A5 & A6 Sizes. 2020 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

Like the weekly version, the MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary has fourteen monthly calendars in the front. However, the bulk of this planner is made up of undated, daily pages. You can use it as a page a day planner, or skip pages as you wish.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page DiaryDailyA5, A6Flexible softcover
Two bookmarks
Midori MD paper
Hourly trackers
Lined paged in back
Index tab stickers

Midori Pocket Diary

From left to right: Midori Pocket Diary B6 & Slim sizes. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

The adorable Pocket Diary is so cute that you might find yourself making plans just so you can schedule them in the notebook! Both versions of the Pocket Diary include themed calendars that change from month to month. The B6 planner also has weekly pages and index tabs that make it easy to flip to the right month.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Pocket DiaryHalf Horizontal WeeklyB6Flexible plastic cover with pen loop
Index tabs for each month
Year index
Monthly calendars
Themed pages
Lined pages in back
Midori Pocket Diary – SlimMonthlyMediumSlim size
Flexible plastic cover with pen loop
Year index
Monthly calendars
Themed pages
Lined pages in back

Midori Flat Diary

Midori Flat Diary. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

This planner fits in the A5 Pouch Diary, which was discontinued. If you own one from previous years, you can pair this planner with the cover. This lightweight planner can also be used on its own.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Flat DiaryMonthlyA5Monthly calendars

Midori Pouch Diary – Slim

Midori Pouch Diary – Slim size. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

This planner is compatible with the discontinued Slim Pouch Diary. If you own a cover, you can continue using it with this refill. Alternatively, its everyday carry-friendly size makes it an excellent stand-alone planner.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Pouch Diary – SlimHalf Horizontal WeeklySlimSlim size
Two bookmarks
Year index
Monthly calendars
Lined pages in back

Which planner will you be using to organize your tasks and reach your goals in this year? Is there another Japanese brand you love more than the four mentioned? Let me know!

BlogThe Best Japanese Planners