Stationery Constant: Hobonichi Techo

I am thinking of starting a series on my stationery constants. I have already discussed one of them this year (the Hightide pen roll that I jointly reviewed with Jenny @ The Finer Point). Another 2016 stationery constant has been that patient companion, the Hobonichi Techo.

Unglamorous, diminuitive in size, unassuming and wise, the Hobo has accepted my daily thoughts, photos and actions since the 1st January. I have deliberately left it a long time into the year to write about it because I wanted my initial thoughts to fade away (for example, I was put off at first by how tiny it seemed, but now that doesn’t even occur to me) and to think about how I use it as a stationery constant, as some of my uses for it have come and gone over the year so far.


Every year I ask for a journal for Christmas and this one was ordered from Japan. Seeing as it was coming all that way, I asked for a couple of other accessories to go with it. When thinking about my setup, I got a case of the stationery fear. Obviously I needed a cover for my new Hobo. How else would it survive a year of use? A cover was definitely in order. But what if my cover got dirty or ruined or didn’t protect my new Hobo well enough? Luckily Hobonichi produce a handy cover-for-a-cover! The pen loops on the cover are quite wide, so they suit a fountain pen with a clip best, although I don’t usually use them. Over the year so far I’ve decorated the cover-for-a-cover with my Erasable podcast decals which I think look great against the darkness of my Hobo cover.

The inside of the cover has a few card slots and slots for larger ephemera. I keep a few bits and pieces in here to add in later or to keep for my scrapbook.
The inside of the cover has a few card slots and slots for larger ephemera. I keep a few bits and pieces in here to add in later or to keep for my scrapbook.
“Hello my name is sticker” from Present and Correct. They still sell some here although not in the same style.
Gold Erasable podcast decal on the back of my Hobo
Gold Erasable podcast decal on the back of my Hobo

Daily photo

The Hobo + my Polaroid ZIP are a match made in heaven. This is the main niche in my stationery and journaling habits that my Hobo has filled. I really enjoy scrapbooking and I hoard tickets, maps and postcards galore. But I’m not great at documenting my life through my own eyes; photos remain digital and photo albums generally unfilled. The Polaroid ZIP prints are just the right size for the Hobo. They fill up just less than half a daily page, and can be arranged differently on the daily pages to to create lovely layouts. They do add quite a bit of volume to the Hobo, but I really like that. It’s like the Hobo is getting chubby with my life experiences. I don’t generally manage a photo every single day, unless I’m on holiday, but I do manage one every couple of days and at weekends. I really enjoy choosing which one best represents my day and sticking it in. You can see from my photo below how I approach daily layouts; different placements of a daily photo and a bit of washi tape here and there.

Two peas in a pod.
Two peas in a pod.

Fountain pens

As well as the habits of my Hobo usage changing, so have some other surrounding stationery habits. For example, my fountain pen usage has dropped dramatically this year. Two years ago they were all I wanted to use. Now I appreciate a much wider range of writing tools, partly because other tools can be much more accessible. Where a new high-end fountain pen could cost £100 or more, a new pencil might cost £3. The Hobo has become my main outlet for fountain pen usage now. The gorgeous Tomoe River paper is perfect for fountain pens and writing on this paper with any other writing implement just feels wrong. Ballpoints, gels and rollerballs at my sweet spot of 0.4mm leave too much of an indentation for my liking, and pencils aren’t generally dark enough and are prone to smudging. For this reason alone I love the Hobo because it makes using fountain pens such a pleasure and lets my ink palette take centre stage. Looking back at the year my most used inks has been lots of Diamine (Bilberry, Meadow, Woodland Green, Sargasso Sea) and Pilot Iroshizuku Momiji, Yama-budo and Syo-ro.

Look at all those inks in action!
Look at all those inks in action!

Monthly calendar

Pretty simple, I use it diligently. The squares are small, but this works fine for me (I’m not one of those people who burns the candle at both ends!). I like highlighting days with my stamp (although it makes the area to write in tiny). When I went on my north American road trip in April this year I tried to sum up each day in the monthly calendar.

Example of my monthly calendar
Example of my monthly calendar
The monthly view daily stamp is cute but doesn't leave much space. I use it sparingly but it gives a fun effect.
The monthly view daily stamp is cute but doesn’t leave much space. I use it sparingly but it gives a fun effect.

Uses I haven’t stuck with

For some reason, I don’t make good use of the monthly “coming up” pages. Every month there is a whole, lined page for the user to write a list as to what that month will bring. I think the reason I haven’t made good use of this page is because I think many of my planned activities aren’t “worthy” of listing on such a page. Looking back I’ve only used this page where I have something significant happening like a holiday or birthday. If I get the chance I’d like to use these pages a bit better for the rest of the year and maybe add some things in to ones I haven’t used, with quotations or doodles perhaps.

My monthly "coming up" pages are a bit sad.
My monthly “coming up” pages are a bit sad.

I also started off the year adding meals planned for the week into my monthly view, the intention of which was to try and plan meals better and to stop meals getting too repetitive. This just didn’t stick, although I’d like to give it another go.

Great idea in theory! Just one I haven't stuck with!
Great idea in theory! Just one I haven’t stuck with!

In brief

I’m really glad I asked for the Hobonichi Techo for Christmas last year and it quickly became a stationery constant of mine. Filling in my daily page has really become an unconscious part of my day, usually just before I go to bed. I’m very happy with my Hobo so far and I wonder what my journaling habits would be like now without it because it’s the only diary and journal system I use. It’s also such a high quality piece of kit. The paper is just beautiful; such a pleasure to use and so different to any of my other paper products. I also love the subtle, classic look of it. It’s strange how something so plain in many respects and that so many people own can still feel personal somehow. But that’s the beauty of a journal right? By definition, it is personal!

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