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Hobonichi Guide for Memory-keepers

by PAM LLAGUNO

I have used the Hobonichi journals for memory-keeping since 2020, and in this blogpost, I want to share everything I’ve learned in this creative journey and my best advice for memory-keepers who are considering getting a Hobonichi journal for the first time.

If you’ve been in the journaling and planning space for quite some time, you probably noticed that every September, people always talk about this journal called Hobonichi. You’ve finally decided to satisfy your curiosity but found it quite intimidating because there are so many different journal types, so many covers to choose from and most of the journals are in Japanese 🤯

This guide will help demystify the Hobonichi journals and help you decide whether or not you want add it to your memory-keeping line-up.


What is the Hobonichi Journal?

The Hobonichi journal started out as a Japanese daily planner known for its minimal but extremely functional design. It has since evolved and branched out into undated journal and original accessories, pretty much becoming this lifestyle brand. The creators of Hobonichi refer to it as a Life Book as a nod to the versatility and intuitive design of the journal that you can use to document and manage your life.

You can choose from three different sizes across eight different journal types:

  1. Original Techo (A6 size, Japanese)
  2. Planner (A6 size, English)
  3. Original Avec (A6 size, two books, Japanese)
  4. Cousin (A5 size, Japanese)
  5. Cousin Avec (A5 size, two books, Japanese)
  6. Day Free (A6 and A5 size, Japanese)
  7. Weeks and Weeks Mega (slim vertical size, Japanese)
  8. 5-Year Techo (A6 and A5 size, Japanese)

If you want all the nitty gritty details for each journal type, you can check out this useful table that the Hobonichi team has compiled in their website:

Photo © Hobonichi from the 2022 line-up

So… what’s special about the Hobonichi Journals?

Ask any Hobonichi enthusiast and they’ll probably say: Tomoe River paper and all the fun covers!

It seems that the Tomoe River paper has been discontinued as of December 2020 however, Hobonichi has stated that they still have their own inventory. As of 2022, the Hobonichi journals still use the Tomoe River paper but this may change in the future.

The Tomoe River paper is a very thin and lightweight paper but durable enough to withstand fountain pen inks and watercolor. This allows the Hobonichi journals to remain relatively thin despite the number of pages. This is especially important if you love sticking down photos, stickers, and ephemera because those will really make your journal chonky.

Probably the most exciting part is choosing a cover to go with your Hobonichi journal. Covers are an outer layer of protection for your journal and every year, Hobonichi releases a range of cover designs from solid colors to embroidered covers, often in partnership with different artists.

There are several other features that make memory-keepers fall in love with these journals but these two are the stand-out ones for documenting your stories.

Okay, I’m sold! Where do I get these journals?

The great news is that the Hobonichi Journals are very accessible since they ship globally from their official website! You can purchase journal all year round except for a couple of weeks in August and January where they close down in preparation for new releases.

Next year’s journals, covers, and accessories are announced in the last week of August and sales officially open on September 1st for the January-start journals and February 1st for April-start ones.. The best way to stay updated is to follow the official accounts on Instagram: @hobonichitecho_official and @hobonichi_global 📱


How to Use Your Hobonichi Journals

There are many different ways that you could use your Hobonichi Journals for but in this blogpost, I want to focus specifically on how you can use it to document the stories of everyday life. You can absolutely use this as a functional planner though; there are so many photos on Pinterest to get you inspired.

📷 One Photo A Day

Take advantage of the “one page a day” feature of the dated Hobonichi Journals by documenting one photo a day. This is a simple and beginner-friendly way that you can get started with documenting daily stories—big or small. This is perfect for you if you’re just testing the waters with memory-keeping and want to keep it simple. Think of it as an analog memory-keeping alternative to Instagram that you can keep up with daily.

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Original Techo / Planner (A6 size)

✍🏼 Daily Writing Prompts

If you want to build a daily writing practice, having a beautiful dated journal with really nice paper can be quite helpful. You can grab daily writing prompts from all over Pinterest, prompt generators like this one or by checking out the #MomentMakerChallenge prompts that I host on Instagram.

I personally use a Hobonichi Techo (A6 size) as my daily self-care journal where I answer a couple of prompts to get my head in the right space every morning.

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Original Techo / Planner (A6 size) or Cousin (A5 size)

🏷 Ephemera Journal a.ka. “Pieces of Life”

Give the ephemera you collect daily a home in your Hobonichi Journal. If you’re the type who loves keeping receipts, tickets, tags, packaging, tea bags—you know that I’m talking about! Having a daily space for these “pieces of life” and the stories that they hold can be your way of intentionally documenting your life.

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Original Techo / Planner (A6 size), Day Free (A6)

📚 Reading Journal (or any Hobby Journal!)

If you’re a book nerd like me who reads way too many books than my brain can actually remember, having a reading journal is a great way to keep track of the books you’ve enjoyed or the things you’ve learned from reading those books.

This is also perfect for any hobbies that you want to document—music you’re enjoying, movies you loved watching, concerts you’ve been to, crocheting projects, anything under the sun really ☀️

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Original Techo / Planner (A6 size), Day Free (A6 size), or Weeks / Weeks Mega

✂️ Scrapbook

If you just want to go all out with documenting your everyday stories, using the Hobonichi Journal as a scrapbook is the way to go! You can combine photos, journaling and ephemera through this fun format. And you can really go to town with decorating it using stickers, washi tapes, and other embellishments.

Just a word of caution—your Hobonichi WILL get chonky (I love this word so much!) so most people prefer using the Avec version which splits the year into two books. This is where the Tomoe River paper shines though because it’s super thin and sturdy so the paper itself doesn’t add to the overall chonk.

This is how I’ve used my Hobonichi Journal since 2020.

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Cousin / Cousin Avec (A5 size) or Day Free (A5 size)

🎨 Art Journal

Art journaling is great way to express your creativity, document your feelings, and prioritize mental health. Having a safe space to play around with paint, markers, collages, and concepts can go a long way towards a positive and healthy outlook in life.

  • My Hobonichi recommendation: Day Free (A5 size)

Ready to kickstart your memory-keeping journey?

Sign up for my newsletter, Moment Makers Club, and get immediate access to an archive of themed memory-keeping prompts, inspiration, and free downloadable printables & digital stickers!


Which journal is right for you?

Now that your are 100% convinced that you want to use Hobonichi for your memory-keeping, you’re probably wondering… which journal should I get?

Honestly, the type of journal will depend on 1️⃣ what you want to use it for, 2️⃣ your budget, and 3️⃣ your personal preference. These journals are very flexible and you can really use them for a multitude of projects so just take what you want from my advice and leave the ones that don’t really apply to you.

Original Techo / Planner (A6 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • one photo a day projects
  • daily reflection / journaling
  • daily scrapbookers who prefer having a small space for memory-keeping and don’t mind having a chonky journal
  • daily hand-lettering practice
  • ephemera journal
Original Avec (A6 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • daily scrapbookers who don’t like super chonky journals and don’t mind splitting the year in half
  • ephemera journal
Cousin (A5 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • daily scrapbookers who prefer keeping a year in one journal and don’t mind having a chonky journal
  • morning pages or daily writing practice
  • daily hand-lettering practice
  • art journaling
Cousin Avec (A5 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • daily scrapbookers who don’t like super chonky journals and don’t mind splitting the year in half
  • art journaling
Day Free (A6 and A5 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • scrapbookers who prefer setting their own pace of memory-keeping (weekly, monthly, spontaneous, etc.)
  • themed journals like reading journals and hobby progress trackers/diary
  • art journaling
  • ephemera journal
Weeks / Weeks Mega

This journal is perfect for:

  • reading journals and hobby progress trackers
  • documenting weekly stories
5-Year Techo (A6 and A5 size)

This journal is perfect for:

  • short writing prompts
  • one photo a day
  • daily mini illustrations / comics

Ultimately, you’ll have to actually try it to know for sure which one works for your style of memory-keeping or for the specific project you had in mind.


My Best Advice for Hobonichi Beginners

I want to close out this guide by sharing my best advice for anyone who’s getting a Hobonichi journal for the first time. I personally did a lot of research before getting my first one and I’ve learned a thing or two (or four) from using this journal as my main memory-keeping method.

  1. Start simple and ideally, with one journal. When September comes and all the new releases are announced, it’s so easy to be swept away with excitement and end up ordering three journals at once. I get it, the FOMO (fear of missing out) is real… but if it’s your first time, you don’t really know for sure if you even like the size you chose or even Hobonichi journals itself.
  2. Give yourself some time to get used to the Tomoe River paper. When I first unboxed my Hobonichi journal, I was worried about the paper. It was very thin and felt a lot like the paper the Bible pages are made of. While it can withstand inks without bleeding through, it does need some time to dry. Over time, I grew used to it and I now love how buttery smooth it feels whenever I write my journaling!
  3. Do a pen test! The paper reacts a little bit differently depending on the type of pen you use. Use a page or two (maybe one of the info pages at the back?) to check how your favorite pens and markers write on the Tomoe River paper.
  4. Decide early on if you mind having a “chonky” journal. You’re not going to see the chunkiness in the first couple of months but when you get to August/September, things can definitely get bulky. If you mind the chonk, you probably need to tone it down with the photos and ephemera but if you don’t mind it at all, then by all means go all out!
  5. Don’t be pressured to document every single day if you don’t want to. Lastly, if you got one of the dated journals and over time, found out that you don’t really enjoy daily memory-keeping, IT’S OKAY. Just ignore the dates and use it as a normal undated notebook! If the date bothers you, cover it up with stickers or patterned paper. At least next time, you’ll know that the Day Free undated journals suit you better (bringing it back to Tip #1!).

Some final thoughts ✨

At the end of the day, whether you decide that the Hobonichi is right for you or not isn’t what matters. What matters is telling the stories that you want to tell in whichever medium feels most aligned to you 😊  This the essence of what intentional memory-keeping is about (you can read more about my memory-keeping philosophy in this blogpost) and while I’d love for you to share my adoration for the Hobonichi journals, there are many different ways that you can document the stories of your everyday life that might be better suited to you 💖

Need some extra help with your memory-keeping?

Sign up for my newsletter Moment Makers Club and get immediate access to an archive of themed memory-keeping prompts, inspiration, and free downloadable printables & digital stickers to help you get those creative juices flowing and give you the tools you need to make intentional memory-keeping a part of your routine.

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