I received a new toy to play with a couple of days ago, called a Jibun Techo. It's a planner from Japan that's competing with Hobonichi, but it seems much more rare to see these in the wild, so I've had lots of questions about it.
I've filmed quite a long video walkthrough as well, which you can watch below:
Warning: very image-heavy post ahead!
Now is probably a good time to say that I don't speak Japanese, and I've found very little information about the Jibun Techo in English. Therefore, I don't know heaps about it, and what I do know has largely come from Google Translate and from using my own Jibun. Apologies in advance if anything I say isn't correct! I've done my best to check all the information I'm sharing.
The Jibun Techo is made by Kokuyo, who also make Campus notebooks as well as other stationery. I'd actually seen the Tomoe River paper Idea notebooks by Kokuyo at Nanami Paper in packs of two, without realising at the time that they're part of the Jibun Techo system.
The Jibun Techo is designed to be used as a three-book set. The main book, which can also be purchased on its own, is the Diary. This is the actual planner. The other two books are the Idea book, which is for notes, and has gridded Tomoe River paper inside, and the Life book, which is for things that don't change, like your family tree and life achievements. This one doesn't have Tomoe River paper, but something else that's ideal for archiving, I believe. The system is set up so you'd keep the Life book, and match it with a new Diary every year, as well as new Idea books when needed.
The Diary comes in a clear plastic cover which has pockets on the inside covers where you can slip in the extra Idea and Life books to keep them all together.
I didn't want the Life book, so I bought just the Diary in the plastic cover, but I also purchased a set of two Idea books separately.
I bought my Jibun from eBay, because it was quite hard to track down from outside Japan, but I've also seen them listed on Etsy. The official Kokuyo site is all in Japanese, so while I think I could purchase it directly, I wasn't game to spend so much money on something where I couldn't read the purchase and shipping forms!
The Jibun isn't cheap—it's fairly comparable to the Hobonichi range. I got free shipping on mine from eBay, but I did pay a little extra to get a yellow one, because all the sellers offering lower prices only had boring white covers. The official site shows some cute spotted and checked covers, but they were all sold out when I was shopping for mine.
This range of cute covers is just one of the clues that Kokuyo is going after Hobonichi with this product, though. There's also an actual comparison table showing the differences between the Hobonichi and the Jibun. The table is pretty small, stating differences like the Hobonichi only being one book, while the Jibun is three. The Jibun comes in two sizes, the A5 slim, which is what I have, and the mini, which is B6 slim.
So what's inside? The main thing to note about the Jibun if you're comparing to a Hobonichi is the lack of daily pages. There's no day-per-page section in the Jibun.
There are yearly, monthly, and vertical weekly sections, so the most space you'll get for a single day is a column in a weekly two-page spread. If you've found your Hobonichi's daily pages going to waste because you don't need that much room, the Jibun could be a great solution.
The other big difference I've noticed is that the Jibun's page design is more busy. It has a lot more colour than the Hobonichi and many more sections and symbols.
There's little happy/neutral/sad faces, for instance, on the monthly pages and each day of the weekly section. There are weather icons across the top of each day in the weekly section, so you can circle or tick the weather conditions for the day, and at the bottom of each day are spaces for sunrise/sunset times and meal tracking. If you're someone who tracks things like your mood and the weather in your planner anyway, the Jibun has all this built in for you. I don't use any of that stuff so it feels like clutter to me, but I can definitely see how it could be useful to other people.
For those coming from a Bullet Journal setup, there are also some built-in collections at the start of the Jibun that you might already have: a book list with a space for ratings, a similar movie list, a list of gifts given and one for those you've received, and a generic "recommendations" list. And if you add an Idea book, that'll give you plenty of room for extra collections.
Because the Jibun is designed to have the Idea book added, it doesn't come with any extra empty note pages. The Idea book adds plenty of extra space, and barely any heft, but it's worth noting you'll need both if you like having extra blank pages in your planner.
The Jibun comes with two ribbon bookmarks built in, and the clear plastic cover has a bunch of pockets. For those who've had Hobonichi covers before this won't be a big deal, but I've always kept my Hobonichis inside other covers I already had, to avoid buying more covers I didn't need. The Jibun came with the clear cover so I got it whether I wanted it or not, and I'm glad I did.
It has three card-size pockets on the inside of the front and back covers, which are perfect for stickers and bookmarks.
On the outside front cover there's a pocket that covers the bottom two-thirds or so, and on the outside back cover is a vertical pocket that covers the right half. I found the back pocket quite handy for holding letters I need to post or reply to.
You can see in the image at the top of this post that I tried clipping my fountain pen to the front outside pocket. Don't do that! I only did it overnight, but the plastic of those outside pockets is very soft, and it warped slightly where the pen had been clipped on. It's recovered now, but I won't do that again.
If you don't add extra Idea or Life books, you'll also get the pockets inside the front and back covers to use, as these are designed to hold the extra books in.
Because I've been keeping my Hobonichi Cousin Avec inside my A5 Roterfaden with my chunky Seven Seas Crossfield journal, I've never thought of the Hobo as being light and portable—even though it is. But I'd been hoping to go back to use my Roterfaden just for my journal and Kindle, and stop lugging it around the house with me, so when the Jibun arrived and had its own cover, I just naturally kept it out of any other covers. Which is all to say, it feels very portable to me—light and thin and easy to carry around. It's slightly less wide than a full A5, being an A5 slim size, and I think that might help too, if only a little.
One final thing I should mention: the paper is the same delicious Tomoe River paper as in the Hobonichi. Here's a look at the show-through from a fine fountain pen on the same page when it's flat and when I hold it up a bit:
So that's it! I hope this post helps you decide if a Jibun Techo is for you. Feel free to hit me up with any questions you have! I'll leave you with some photos of how I'm using the Jibun so far, though I'm still experimenting.