Hobonichi Planner 2014 Review

Hobonichi Planner

Having abandoned my Cartier diary (as the refills have increased an unbelievable 60% in price) I began searching for a replacement and stumbled upon a thread on The Fountain Pen Network discussing diaries for 2014.  The one that seemed to peak everyone’s interest was the Hobonichi Planner featuring Tomoe River paper.  To my knowledge, 2014 is the first year that this planner has been released in English.  After doing more research and learning about the awesome layout I knew I had to have one.

Hobonichi Planner

The appearance of the planner is simple and elegant.  The cover is a thin flexible black leatherette with “Techo” (in Japanese) and three keys printed in silver.  Printed on the spine in silver is “HOBO” and “2014”.  I like the look of the black leatherette cover so much that I am tempted to use it without a case.  The planner measures 105mm wide x 149mm high x 14mm thick (that’s approximately 4.13″ wide  x 5.87″ high x o.55″ thick).  Pictured below is the spine with the book open.  Tomoe River paper is so thin that you can fit 464 pages + the cover into a 14mm dimension.  The planner lays flat thanks to its excellent construction.

Hobonichi Planner
For those interested in book making look at how many tiny signatures (folded sheets sewn together) there are!

Hobonichi Planner

The layout of the planner is quite nice.  You get a full page per day with 4mm grids.  Each page shows the current moon phase and every two page spread features a quote.  Most of the quotes are from Japanese cultural figures.

Hobonichi Planner
Up front you get full months spread across two pages.
1 month per column and a day per row.
1 month per column and a day per row.

For Sunday the print on the page is orange instead of the normal black/grey.  In the back of the planner there are several pages of blank orange dot grid followed by some reference pages (clothing sizes, international holidays and country codes) as well as informational pages like a sushi guide and a sake guide.  One thing that I would like to see in the Hobonichi is a color map of the world.

Sushi Guide...I particularly like the part on the top right pages that says "If you are having trouble ordering....Just point!"
Sushi Guide…I particularly like the part on the top right page that says “If you are having trouble ordering….Just point!”

The paper, as I have show in my review of a Tomoe River notebook , is simply amazing.  It holds fountain pen ink as well or better than any other paper I can think of.  It’s hard not to love this planner.  The Hobonichi planner is reasonably priced at 2,500 Yen (approx $24 USD) before shipping and handling.

Hobonichi Planner
No issues with bleeding or feathering…the only draw back to this paper is dry time.
Hobonichi Planner
There is show through but it is not something that would prevent you from writing on both sides of a page.

Naoko at Hobonichi Planner was kind enough to send me this planner free of charge for me to review.  Along with the planner she included a cover, a couple of stencils and a set of page flags.  The design of the cover to be honest, is not my cup of tea.  The polyester cover was designed by the children’s book illustrator Ryoji Arai.  The front features a bright red donkey against a sky blue cover and the spine and back cover has some doodles and pictures.  It’s a very interesting composition.  The inside of the cover is bright pink and has two neon green page makers with pink tips (one is a rectangle and the other is a triangle).

Hobonichi Planner
Hobonichi cover with a Montblanc 149 in the pen loops.

There is a pocket on the outside of the back cover which I have found to be handy for slipping in receipts as well as a Field Notes journal.  There are two large pen loops, one attached to the front of the cover and one attached to the back so that you can slip a pen into both loops to keep the notebook shut.  I was able to easily slide my Montblanc 149 into the loops which is good news if you like to use oversized pens.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the front cover there are 5 card slots that fit the Hobonichi stencils perfectly. There is an additional pocket behind the card slots.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the back cover there is a black tag that says “Hobonichi 2014” as well as two small pockets.

Hobonichi Planner

The retail price of this cover is 1,900 Yen (approx $18 USD).  This same cover in a plain solid color is 1,500 Yen (approx $14.50 USD) and in leather is 8,500 Yen (approx $81.50 USD).  The are several other cover designs that cost as much as 31,500 Yen (approx $302 USD).  The polyester cover is reasonably priced and and provides a lot of functionality.

The Hobonichi planner and covers can be purchased in English directly from Hobonichi here.

Hobonichi Planner

Please note: (as mentioned above) this product was provided to me at no charge by Hobonichi for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of the Hobonichi Planner:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Tiny Cartridge – Tiny Review: Hobonichi Techo 2013The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

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Tomoe River Notebook Review

Tomoe River Notebook

I have been hearing about this supernatural Tomoe River paper for a while but I could not find it in a format that I liked.  Through The Fountain Pen Network I saw that is was available in notebook form from PaperForFountainPens.com (no affiliation).

Tomoe River Notebooks.
Tomoe River Notebooks

Tomoe River paper is ultra light weight at 52 gsm with a very smooth texture.  This paper has been getting a lot of praise in the fountain pen community for its ability to handle fountain pen ink.  I have been playing with this paper the last few days and it is amazing.  There is virtually no bleed through.  With some abuse I did get it to bleed in one spot.  I used my Rohrer & Klinger glass dip pen without removing the excess ink first and the only point of bleed through is where the bottom of the “g” made contact with the “a” in “Scabiosa”.  The wettest letter though is the first “R” in “Rohrer” which had zero bleed through.  There is no feathering to mention and ink looks beautiful on this paper.  The paper is fragile and easily crinkles; to me this is just part of the charm of the paper.  Dry times are comparable to Rhodia and Clairefontaine papers.

Loose leaf cream Tomoe River Paper
Loose leaf cream Tomoe River Paper
A good amount of ghosting but virtually no bleed through.
A good amount of ghosting but virtually no bleed through.

I did abuse the paper a bit more.  I tried a drop Noodler’s Qin Shi Huang on the paper.  There was no bleed through for about the first hour.  Here is the result after 3 hours:

Noodler's Qin Shi Huang (notorious for feathering) still wet after 3 hours.
Noodler’s Qin Shi Huang (notorious for feathering) still wet after 3 hours.
Bleed through after 3 hours.
Bleed through after 3 hours.

The results are very impressive.  I let the ink sit overnight and the ink finally bled through all the way.  The ink did not spread at all and if you use the widest and juiciest of pens with blotter paper you should experience no bleed.  This is an excellent paper for fountain pens.

Tomoe River Notebook

The notebook contains 320 cream colored pages (160 leaves) that measure 4.9″ x 8″.  There is ghosting so I only like to write on one side.  It is worth noting that because this paper is so thin you will get ghosting even with a pencil.  The notebook is nicely made and lays pretty flat.  I am really happy with these notebooks and plan to use them as my primary journal.  The price per notebook varies based on how many you order: 1 for $29, 2 for $53 ($26.50 each), and 3 for $75 ($25 each).

Tomoe River Notebook

The only paper I can compare to the Tomoe River is Smythson’s Featherweight 50 gsm paper.  Smythson’s paper handles fountain pen ink just as well but costs an absolute fortune.  Think $29 is a lot for a notebook? A 5.5″ x 7.5″  Smythson notebook with 192 leaves (not refillable) costs £135 (approx. $220 USD)!  To by fair, Smythson notebooks have beautiful leather covers, blue paper with gilt edges and three real ROYAL WARRANTS.  Having been gifted a Smythson’s Panama diary a few years ago I can say that they are easily the nicest notebooks (calendar) I have ever used but for almost 1/10th the price of a Smythson, the Paper For Fountain Pens Tomoe River notebook is a fantastic value. I haven’t been this happy with a notebook in a long time.  I highly recommend giving one a try.

Here are some great reviews of Tomoe River paper:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Ed Jelley – Seven Seas Tomoe River Paper Pad – Handwritten Stationery Review

Wonder Pens – Tomoe River Paper

Fountain Pen Geeks – Tomoe River Paper Review

The Pen Addict – Tomoe River Paper Review