Hobonichi Techo is my new favorite notebook

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” — Han Solo

Han Solo accidentally gave great productivity advice when he made the statement above in the film Star Wars. Google “productivity” and you’ll find a seemingly endless supply of methods, systems (the “hokey religions”), tools, and gadgets (the “ancient weapons”) seemingly required to help you. Han understood that while those things have their place, they can’t compare to a tool that is reliable, tried, and true. In my case, my blaster is a Hobonichi Techo notebook.

I love working with paper and I’ve used plenty of notebooks over the years. Currently I’m in love with the Hobonichi Techo. This pocket-sized book is so pleasant that I find myself making excuses to write in it. It’s my planner, scratch work area, journal, and scrapbook. It even has an interesting history.

It’s a popular notebook/planner from Japan. The company, Hobonichi, began selling an English-language version in 2012. Each year, Hobonichi asks its customers for ideas and feedback that influences the next year’s production model, which is pretty neat.

It’s available in several sizes. I use A6, which is slightly larger than my hand. This is a good choice for me, as it’s large enough to write in comfortably, yet small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jeans.

The Techo is divided into several sections. First is a yearly overview, followed by eight pages of monthly overview (two months per page). Next you’ll find several pages that look like a typical wall calendar, two pages for each month. What follows is the heart of the Techo.

The notebook has one page per day of the year. Each contains the date, day, moon phase, and an anecdote. Of course, there’s plenty of room to write on color-coded grid paper (one color per month). Also, there are five slots for to-do actions at the top of each page. I’ve been using these pages to outline articles, record to-dos, capture incoming stuff like “schedule that appointment” and jot down fun stuff the kids have done. This book has become a real companion.

In the back there are several completely blank pages, followed by sections to recored special dates to remember; restaurants, movies, music or stores that you love or want to visit/see; measurement conversion charts, and other random information.

I love devices that can handle more than one task and the Techo does so gracefully. I’m not as artistic as these folks, but I’m getting a lot done and that is good enough for me.

Are you a paper planner person, too? If so, what is your favorite and why? Finally, just to be transparent, I wasn’t paid or provided with any product in exchange for this review. It is genuinely what I use and spend my own money to buy.

10 Comments for “Hobonichi Techo is my new favorite notebook”

  1. posted by Julia on

    This seems complicated to order.

  2. posted by Rosalie Donlon (@RosalieDonlon) on

    I love paper, especially my DayTimer’s that I’ve been using for more than 30 years. I also use 8.5X11 lined pads for special things, like dinner party planning or Christmas gift shopping. I can easily tear pages off to carry then discard when I’m done or make notes and save them.

  3. posted by David Caolo on

    Well, it looks like I picked an unfortunate time to publish this. It seems ordering has been temporarily suspended as Japan prepares for an increase in sales tax:


    D’oh! Typically, you’ll find information on ordering the English version here:


    Sorry, folks.

  4. posted by Kate on

    I’ve been a Filofax/Day Runner/Franklin person for years (ancient weapons), most recently integrated with elements of the GTD system (hokey religion), but just in the past couple months I’ve realized that I need go with something more streamlined and have been trying out my own variation of bullet journaling in a pocket size Clairfontaine notebook. So far, so good, though I taped a Filofax 4-year planner to the inside back cover.

    Researching how others do bullet journaling sent me down an organizational YouTube rabbit hole for days. If other planner addicts have a lot of time on their hands, go check out what people have done with their Techos, Midoris, Filofaxes, etc. And don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  5. posted by Lindsay Nelson on

    Thanks for the awesome article, David! <3 I'm forever on a quest to discover the most efficient ways to work my Hobonichi Techo in with my Omnifocus iPhone app, since I'm still trying to stick with the GTD system. Also using two techos for the first time this year, one for a diary/sketchbook/photo album, and one for all the work projects I'm juggling. We'll see how it goes~ I kinda like it so far. (I'm also someone who was never, ever able to keep up on any kind of planner or journal before I discovered Hobonichi, so having two is gutsy for me.)

    BTW, Sales aren't going to be suspended until March 26th, so your timing is fine. 🙂

  6. posted by Randy on

    How long does it take to ship? And, $2700 yen is about $30 USD. Are there any other upcharges (shipping, customs, etc.)?

    I am really interested in this product. I currently us an At-a-Glance for calendaring events and Action Method for project management (http://www.behance.net/gallery.....le)/398751)

    The Hobonichi Techo would combine both of these tools into one…with compelling design!

  7. posted by Karen on

    I’m really happy you posted this — timing aside. I won’t be ordering a whole-year planner until the end of this year, anyway.

    I use a few list and calendar/reminder apps but I cannot get away from a paper planner. I love writing things down and making notes to myself in ink.

    I’ve been using a Moleskine for several years but one of my pet peeves is the ink-bleed factor…. so this brand seems like a good switch. LOVE the pen holder, and I love being able to hold it closed (like the Moleskine already does), too. I would never have found this without your post.

    Seems like someone must carry them in the states…. ???

  8. posted by Regina on

    I’m also a paper lover… after a decade and a half of Filofax addiction, my planner of choice now is the MyAgenda from MomAgenda. I prefer to plan/view a week at a time, but it might not be suitable for someone who prefers to do extensive daily planning, daily doodling or scrapbooking. It was developed so you can schedule each child daily, or different aspects of your life (school, work, exercise) in each of the rows. But I use the top half of the page for my appointments, then the next three rows for my daily “to dos” and the bottom row for meal planning. Just another option out there….

  9. posted by Pat Reble on

    Very excited – my Hobonichi arrived in today’s post and it’s meeting all expectations. Thanks for introducing me to the brand, I can see it’s going to become a staple for me and my Luddite ways :))

  10. posted by Karen on

    So…. I really want one, but it’s $412? (¥2571)

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