What is a Hobonichi Planner? And how does it compare to a Filofax?

Hobonichi Techo Planner vs Filofax day-per-page diary

As the Hobonichi Planner has only recently become available in outside of Japan, there isn’t a lot written about it on the blogosphere in English. So I thought I’d post something explaining what I think the Hobonichi Planner is all about.

Essentially, it’s a day-per-page diary in A6 size, with a minimalistic grid layout. But it’s the many novel ways the diary is used that give the Hobonichi its significance. The word hobonichi means ‘almost every day’ in Japanese, so this planner is an ideal recording tool for anything you want to track on a daily basis (for example, diet and exercise, your spending habits, the cute things your kids say and do).

Hobonichi Planner accessories

There are a range of accessories available from the 1101 store.

The thing that draws many to the Hobonichi is the range of covers available to protect and beautify the book. New cover designs are released each year in leather, faux leather and fabric with either a zipper, button or butterfly closure. And that’s where the comparison with the Filofax comes in. You can change your cover as the mood takes you, just as you can with a ringed planner. The covers have card slots and secretarial pockets inside, plus a handy slip pocket on the back of the cover. Also, you can add a horizontal weekly view to your Planner with a weekly insert. That way, you could use the weekly booklet for your planning, and the daily diary for recording. It’s only available in Japanese, however. Add a Hobonichi brand memo book for notes and you’re all set. Only with this planner, no pages will go missing, and archiving is easy, as the year is printed on the spine of each book.

Hobonichi Planner robin egg leather cover

The Pencil Board fits perfectly in the back pocket.

Hobonichi Planner Robin Egg day-per-page diary

All planner covers have a similar internal layout.

Like a Filofax, it’s a standard product that, with use, comes to reflect the personality of the user. Many people in Japan like to decorate their pages with drawings, washi tape, or stickers and then upload photographs of their work to Instagram and other social media. So there is a community of users developing around this and similar diaries on the Internet.

Using a Hobonich Planner for learning vocabulary

I’m working my way through this Collins vocabulary builder. I aim to write five new words each day.

I started to use my Hobonichi as a gratitude journal. However, I found the pages too small for everything I wanted to capture. So now I’m using it to memorise French vocabulary for my university course. It’s a daily discipline that is providing a real sense of achievement to my year. I moved my gratitude journal to another diary I sourced from Japan, which I’ll share with you soon.

At the time of writing, you still can order a 2014 planner. Several of the covers are still available too from the English-language store. Also, you can order lots of lovely accessories to decorate your planner (or Filofax) from the Japanese store, and switch to English when you check-out. Here are some links to further information on this daily diary phenomenon:


9 thoughts on “What is a Hobonichi Planner? And how does it compare to a Filofax?

    • Hi Deb. I think the paper in the Hobonichi is good quality, but it is thin. That’s how they get 400 or so pages and the book is not too thick. A6 is a small size, but I guess it depends how much you want to write each day.

  1. Hey! How were the shipping, customs and extra charges? I am planning to buy the planner but I got a bit discouraged when their store couldn’t tell me exactly how much shipping will cost :s

    • It was 900 Yen for EMS shipping with tracking, and then a 500 Yen admin fee. That was a flat rate on any order. I think I had to sign for it when it arrived. I think it’s a bit expensive, but it was fast.

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