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  • A Fleeting Ripple

time tetris: hobonichi techo planner review

The wind ruffles the early wildflowers outside, they look like they’re barely holding on to the soil underneath them. The allergy season is in full swing, the wind sweeping the pollen off the ground and into your face. Grey clouds cover the sky, the watered-down sunlight streaming down to cast soft shadows. It’s a bleak spring day, where you daydream about the sun but still wear your winter coat. I am tired.

Closeup of the spine of the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

It has been four months since the new year has started. With the new year, I started a new planner like many. I like January-start planners more than April-start ones, the new planner adds to the feeling of a fresh start of the new year. This A6 Hobonichi format -rather than the A5 I used for a while last year- seems to work for me the best, otherwise I fall off the wagon once the excitement wears off -around the two-month mark.

Closeup of the daily page of the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

The reason why Hobonichi’s layout worked so well for me is the flexibility of it. In the daily pages, the timeline is on the left side, and only marked with a 12 for the midday, so I can block out hours depending on what I’m doing. Vertical lines show me the blocks of time when I’m expected to be somewhere, like a two-hour meeting or a four-hour class, whereas the horizontal lines are the deadlines for specific times, like a paper submission at 17:00. I try to leave empty time slots in my day to finish up other tasks, but they’re not marked. This leaves me some flexibility to finish up tasks at my own pace rather than a prescribed one. 

On the right side of the page, the tasks are written with a little square, notes with a dash and important stuff are written with a star. I have never filled the whole length of the page so far, but the days are busy enough for me to fill up at least a half, so the length of the A6 page size fits what I need pretty well. I tend to colour-code the tasks and the appointments; meaning that, for example, I will write the school tasks and appointments in the same colour during that day. That colour might change the next day, or not. It lets me see the tasks of the day clearly grouped, and all the different colours make me happy…

Closeup of the yearly page of the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

The rest of the planner pages see less use from me. Monthly pages see occasional use for me, I’ll write down big events and tasks I want to finish during that month, but nothing in detail. The yearly pages, where the months are written out in rows get the least amount of use. I tried to write big holidays or birthdays on there, but forgot about their existence after February. Then there are the extra pages at the end of the book. I only use the “My 100” page somewhat regularly, and dedicated one of the grid pages to keeping track of books I’ve read. I like that these pages exist, it makes me feel like the planner is a bit more personal rather than just some papers with daily print on them to keep track of appointments. 

The print on the pages is only the first part of the equation though, and the other important part is the actual paper that the print is on and the physical characteristics of the notebook. 

Closeup of the grid page of the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

As most of you probably know, the new Hobonichi’s use the Tomoe River S, the paper made after Sanzen bought the brand. This paper lets the Hobonichi be light enough to be carried around all day, even though it has a whole year’s worth of pages inside. The difference between the old Tomoe River and the S is negligible enough for me. The fountain pens behave pretty good and the colours are vibrant, giving the most boring of daily tasks a fun flair.

Let me discuss the polyester cover made by Hobonichi for a moment, because it saved my life. I was trying to climb stairs with a computer stacked with my planner, a notebook and a pen case in one hand; and a full mug of steaming tea in my other hand. You can imagine how well that went. Thankfully, it didn’t spill on my computer but the Hobonichi (in its cover!) fell from the stack and took half a mug of tea. It was literally lying in a puddle on the ground. Miraculously, the planner itself didn’t even get a single drop of tea. The cover held most of it on the surface, and only absorbed a little bit of it. After drying the cover for an hour or so, there wasn’t even a stain left.

Closeup of the cover for the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

In addition to the protectiveness of the cover, I appreciate the bookmarks as well. Usually one rests on today’s date and the other on the monthly page. It’s quite handy for going back and forth. I added my own brass bookmarks for the extra pages, since I don’t flip to them as often as I do to the dated pages. Unfortunately, all the card slots don’t get used often, simply because I don’t have anything to put in them. I don’t really know what to put there?

Closeup of the cover of the 2024 Hobonichi Techo planner.

Even though my planner stays in a cover to protect it from the perils of daily life, the gold embossed cardboard cover is lovely. A part of me wants to keep it out of the cover so that I can enjoy it more often, but then I do something like spilling tea on it, so… Well, the binding stays flat, even with the cover, making it easy to just flip out and scribble something down. 

I am super thankful that I got the cover, because I actually wasn’t going to buy any. There weren’t any that particularly caught my attention and polyester is not a material I like. I doubt the notebook itself would’ve survived that fall into a puddle of tea. 

All in all, count me in on the Hobonichi Techo team. It’s a well-made and simple planner, and that’s precisely why it works so well. The layout itself doesn’t force you into following a specific formula. 

Thank you for reading!



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