Tiny Review: Hobonichi Techo 2013
It might seem odd for Tiny Cartridge to review a daily planner, but I’m always curious about anything Mother/Earthbound creator Shigesato Itoi is involved in, whether it’s his copywriting work, his appearances on Iron Chef as a judge, or even his free DSiWare app for tracking your health.
Plus, when I shared the news last month that Itoi’s company Hobonichi released its popular Japanese planner in English for the first time this year, many of you showed interest in importing a copy. Hobonichi was kind enough to send a Techo (planner) over for us to review, so now you get to hear why you should (or shouldn’t) buy the planner.
Four things that are fab:
1. The creativity it encourages - The Techo can be used as a traditional organizer to schedule your life and plot out appointments, but the design of its daily pages, each outlined with a charcoal gray grid, allow for and encourage much more. You can use it as a diary, comic journal, scrapbook, sketchbook, school notebook, budget tracker, etc. Fill it with illustrations of cats or Animal Crossing's K.K. Slider if that’s what you’re into; this isn’t a planner you have to take seriously.
Having no artistic ability, I’m using mine as a chronicle for a mishmash of things, recording my work-out progress, new food I’ve tried with short reviews, moments/jokes I enjoyed with my wife, tweets from @therealjuicyj I want to remember, whatever I watched or listened to that day, etc. I’m trying to live that examined life.
2. The quotes - Plenty of calendars and planners are filled with inspiring daily words, but being from Itoi and his company, the Techo offers eccentric quotes taken from his interviews and articles posted on Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun, much of them never published in English. Take these words from Itoi printed on the the very first days of the year for instance:
The idea of ‘just another day’ is really quite curious.
You could say it’s just like every other day,
or you could say there’s no other day like it.
Someone is born; some people break up.
Those are some of the things that take place on ‘just another day.’
And because Itoi’s worked closely with them over the years, you’ll find quotes from Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto in there, too. It’s a treat to turn the pages every other day, and read the next quote.
3. The accessories - Something about the Techo makes you want to go out and buy accessories to enhance your experience with it, and Hobonichi is more than happy to sell you a wide range of "tools and toys" through its site: stickers, stencils, pens (I bought a multi-color Muji pen to keep clipped to my planner case), tiny scissors, mini post-its, small Polaroid cameras that print photo stickers, and other items to decorate your pages with.
Hobonichi provided me with one of its classy leather cases, which are way pricy at $158 apiece but definitely feel/look expensive. People might mistake you for a professional who’s on top of things and making bank when you pull one of these out at work, even if your Techo is nothing more than a collection of drawings you’ve made of butts.
Seeing the dozens of other cases Hobonichi sells, I want to pick up another one with more pockets, as they can double as wallets or pouches that hold things you want handy. For those seeking a personal touch, there are clear jackets that you can slide your own designs into — or you can create a cover like Birdie’s Mother-embroidered case pictured above.
4. The community - There’s already a growing group of Techo fans in the West, partly due to the Mother fans who’ve picked one up, and also due to the efforts of Lindsay Nelson, who helped localize the planner. Lindsay has not only created a site that shows you how to buy and get the most out of your planner; she’s created a Tumblr where people can post Techo photos to show their love.
Marveling over the creative ways others are using their Techos has given me plenty of ideas for how to enjoy my planner. It’s like the physical planner equivalent to downloading updates that introduce new features to a journaling app, or seeing others post hacks/mods for their Techos.
Three things that are butt:
1. We live in a digital age - Tumblr, Facebook, Google Calendar/iCal, or apps like Evernote can do almost everything the Techo can as far as traditional planner tasks go, short of delivering you quotes from Itoi. For many, the physical planner just lacks the power features digital solutions provide: sharing with friends and contacts, commenting and reblogging, tagging and searching, easy importing and exporting, etc. And copying and pasting is so much more convenient when it’s a couple of keystrokes, not a minute spent cutting out and gluing whatever you want to save.
There are still special joys you can only get with a physical journal like the Techo, however, like searching for the perfect pen to pair with your planner, or getting to mark in the margins that a sports team you follow won, or using a butt-based scoring system to rate your day, or affixing colorful cat stickers next to your appointments, or writing out the name of your lover or crush over and over during your daydreams, or making quick sketches of your meals, or slowly building a row of books on your shelf to create a multi-volume chronicle of your life (it helps that the simple jackets and their spines look so attractive).
2. It’s already mid-February - You might feel wasteful, buying a planner that spans December 2012 - December 2013. Or you can do what I did, and pick something you’ve been meaning to record, and fill the blank pages for those months you missed — recipes, the first chapters of that book you’ve been meaning to start writing, lyrics to Hall and Oates songs for quick reference, portraits of people in your life, unsent love letters to Tiny and/or our Lizard, etc. Or you could use those blank pages to stash footnotes from your daily entries.
3. It’s more expensive than most planners - A Techo alone, without a cover, will cost you $29 before you even pay shipping and handling from Japan. You could get a discounted 3DS game for that amount!
I’m actually using my Techo - I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased planners or received them from others, starting from my early teen years. Without fail, I abandoned them within weeks, if not days.
I’ve found the Techo so much fun to use, though, thanks to the community around it and how personalized mine feels. I expect to fill this planner’s pages until the end of the year, and pick up a new one for 2014.
I know some people who are interested in buying one are waiting for the 2014 edition, but I don’t see the point of having a couple extra months’ worth of pages, versus having something now that can help you organize your days/thoughts, and examine your life. Why put that off?
If you decide to buy a Techo, make sure to read Lindsay’s instructions and bookmark this useful page.
BUY Mother 3/Earthbound, Hobonichi Techo 2013
IMAGES VIA Mochigram