Best Japanese Planners
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The Best Japanese Planners

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Japanese Planners have quickly found popularity all over the world. And while you might know a few names, like Hobonichi, or Midori, there are so many available that you should check out. While I could go on and on forever about all of the great options for planners including the minimal Muji planners, inexpensive ones you can find at Daiso, or well-known and loved brands like Nolty or Rollbahn, I wanted to focus on arguably the top four most well-known Japanese Planner brands and break down all of the various options they offer. Because, if you scroll down, there are so. Many. Options.  And only you know which planner will work best for you and which style suits your taste.  So, without going on and on, here are, in my opinion, the best Japanese planners.

Further down I go into detail about what each planner to help you in choosing your next one. 

Read Also: Must Have Japanese Stationery

What to Think About When Choosing a Planner:

Format: 

Standard planners typically have one of three configurations: monthly, weekly, or daily. Weekly and daily planners usually include monthly layouts as well to help you schedule in projects and events for the future. And some planners, like the Hobonichi cousin, have monthly, weekly, and daily pages all in one planner which is a great option for those who want versatility or who need all of that space to keep track of their busy schedules.

Daily planners, as you’d guess, devote a day to each page. Daily planners are great for artists, creative journalers, or note-takers because there is so much open space to keep sketches and journal entries.

This is how I use the daily pages of the Hobonichi A6: using it to journal and document my life for posterity and as a creative outlet. But you can also use the daily pages to help you get even more organized by allowing you to focus on one day at a time and having a large amount of space for your schedule and to-do lists.

The Best Japanese Planners

To see your whole week in one layout, a weekly planner is the obvious choice. The most typical style of planner out there is probably the horizontal. You’ve seen the week spread out over the two pages, with Monday to Wednesday on the left page and Thursday to Sunday on the right. But it can also come in all days of the week on one page with the other blank. This is how the Hobonichi Weeks is laid out. But some planners utilize a vertical format where the days of the week are spread across two pages, usually with an hourly tracker for each day. An hourly tracker is a great way to schedule the day. 

Japanese Planners

Long-term planners are really not meant for daily lists or tasks. Instead, a long-term planner lets you jot down a message or paragraph about a certain day with the ability to look back over the years to see change or progress. Long-term planners are great to record your kids’ childhoods, track fitness programs, or just document your life. I don’t personally use a long-term planner, but because I daily journal in my Hobonichi, I’m essentially doing the same thing, just in multiple planners.  That’s the benefit of a dedicated long-term planner: they are usually smaller (because there’s less space given for each day) and they’re only one book so you don’t have to keep buying or replacing planners each year and all of your memories are compiled into one place. 

Japanese Planners
Dated or “FREE” (Undated)

Like you can probably guess, a dated planner has the month and day printed for each layout. Many people (myself included) like dated planners because there is no filling out dates or creating layouts. Just open to the corresponding page and fill in your tasks or appointments. However, some may feel trapped by dated planners. If you don’t enjoy using a planner every single day, or want the freedom to start and stop as you please, an undated planner might be for you.

Hobonichi Techo Planner

An undated planner is great for those that don’t want pre-filled dates for added freedom. Students or teachers who don’t use a planner over the summer may choose an undated planner so as not to waste the pages from the summer months. The ability to fill in dates on an undated planner lets you start the planner whenever it’s convenient to you or skip pages on days you don’t have tasks or appointments. I know a lot of people who love undated planners for their versatility and the ability to “skip” days without having blank pages in the planner and feeling like you’ve wasted money.

Japanese Undated Planners
Size

Another major consideration when choosing a planner is its size. A business traveler that is always on the road may want smaller planner than a remote worker whose planner never leaves their desk, for example.

One of the reasons I chose the Hobonichi Weeks was because of its slim size.  Not only does it fit easily in my bag, but its thin paper means the entire planner is thin and lightweight. I used an Erin Condren Lifeplanner for a while but quickly found it wouldn’t work for me.  I never wanted to take it out of the house, let alone travel with it, so it just wasn’t fitting my needs. I was happy to find most Japanese planners are more compact so I never worry about leaving my books at home. 

Hobonichi Techo Planners

If you’re someone who does the majority of your planning in the same location, a larger planner like the A4 or A5 will have enough space to allow for whatever you need to include in your planner.

For those that need something easier to carry, a smaller planner like the A6 will fit easily in a purse or backpack and will be light enough to be almost unnoticeable. You may also want to look into non-standard-sized or slim planners that make them even more portable.

However, keep in mind that because those planners can vary greatly in size, you may not find the cover or accessories that you like to fit. But, if you don’t care for accessories or you don’t mind possibly altering any you may need, this is a great option for additional portability. I list the sizes of all of the planners to help you get an idea what you might be in for.

Paper

Those new to planners, or stationery in general, may overlook paper quality for the more obvious qualities like layout and size. However, paper type and quality can actually make a big difference in how you use your planner and your overall writing experience.

High-quality paper will handle any kind of writing instruments or art supplies well. Those that use fountain pens or a very wet ink should opt for a smooth, ink-resistant paper that will resist feathering and bleed-through. While those that only use ballpoint pens or pencil won’t mind a paper that’s prone to smudging with wetter inks.

Thickness of paper will also dictate how thick your planner will be. Again, the Erin Condren planner has 80-pound paper that is about 118gsm. This makes the paper sturdy, resistant to ghosting, and holds up to a variety of art techniques. On the other hand, Hobonichi uses Tomoe River paper that is only 52gsm. And while Tomoe River paper is the gold standard for many paper enthusiasts, it is very thin and will show a lot of ghosting. However, An Erin Condren planner with the same number of pages as a Hobonichi will be more than double the thickness. So it’s important to think about how thick or heavy you want your planner to be.

Now let’s get into the specifics of each one of the best Japanese Planners.  

Hobonichi Techo

Hobonichi planners are extremely popular and might be the most well-known Japanese planner brand out there. Each planner contains the ever-popular Tomoe River paper that is extremely thin to help reduce the planner’s weight while remaining resistant to ink. Fountain pen users will love the ink resistant paper while creative journalers who use colored pencils, markers, even light watercolor washes can fill their pages with plenty of artwork without worry of bleeding or feathering.. You can learn more about the Hobonichi Techo by reading my guide.

For those that add a lot of stickers, scrapbook items, or paint, you will find your Hobonichi Techo becomes bulky throughout the year. To help manage that, you can try the Avec versions which split the year into two books. Both the A6 Original and A5 Cousin come in Avec versions for even more portability.

The A6 and A5 versions are available in Japanese, English, or Simplified Chinese. The Hobonichi Techo Original comes in Japanese only and is available as a Sunday or Monday start. It also has a slightly different daily format and smaller grid size.

Daily Hobonichi’s

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo CousinDailyA5Comes with or without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dated weekly section with vertical hourly tracker in front
Gridded pages in back
Informational pages
Hobonichi Techo OriginalDailyA6Comes with or without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dot grid pages in back
Informational pages
Hobonichi Techo PlannerDailyA6Comes with or without cover
English-language version of the A6 Hobonichi Techo
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Dot grid pages in back
Informational pages

Buy now on Amazon US, or Etsy.

Weekly Hobonichi’s

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo WeeksHalf Horizontal WeeklyMediumTomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Sticker pocket
Hobonichi Techo Weeks MegaHalf Horizontal WeeklyMediumTomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Three times as many grid pages in back
Informational pages
Sticker pocket

Buy Now on Amazon US, or Etsy.

Monthly Hobonichi

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Hobonichi Techo Day-FreeMonthlyA5A6Comes without cover
Tomoe River paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Gridded pages
Informational pages

Buy Now on Amazon US, or Etsy.

Kokuyo Jibun Techo

The Kokuyo Jibun Techo is a weekly planner that uses a vertical, hourly format. There are four versions available: the Standard, Biz, Lite, and DAYs. You can learn more about the Jibun Techo in my comprehensive guide.

The Standard First Kit is a planner system that you can carry from one year to the next. It also includes the Idea and Life booklets, which help you keep track of life’s meaningful experiences. Its refreshing palette of blues and oranges make every page stand out. The Standard and Pale covers remove the extra booklets for a slimmer planner, but you can always add the booklets if you prefer.

For business professionals, the Biz has a monochromatic look. The Lite is a simplified version that fits in backpacks and purses with ease, making it an excellent academic planner. The Biz and Lite are meant to be used by themselves for a sleek planner that can be carried anywhere.

The DAYs is Kokuyo’s take on a daily planner. It splits the year into two six-month booklets that can be swapped out of the included cover.

Kokuyo Jibun Techo Pale, Standard, Biz, and Lite

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Jibun Techo First Kit StandardVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimComprehensive three-book planning system
Plastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Writing board with elastic band
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo Diary Pale CoverVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimPlastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo Diary Standard CoverVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimPlastic and paper cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo BizVertical WeeklyA5 Slim, Mini B6 SlimSlim size
Plastic cover with cardholders and pen loop
Bookmark
Kokuyo MIO paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages
Kokuyo Jibun Techo LiteVertical WeeklyMini B6 SlimSlim, portable size
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Hourly trackers
Grid pages in back
Informational pages

Buy now from Amazon US

Kokuyo Jibun Techo Days Diary

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Jibun Techo DAYs DiaryDailyMini B6 SlimSlim, portable size
Kokuyo THIN paper
Year index
Monthly calendars
Informational pages

Kokuyo Campus Diary Free- Monthly

If you like Kokuyo’s Campus notebooks, you’ll enjoy the matching Campus Diary Free Schedule. These simple notebooks are great student planners. A Year index and monthly calendars can be filled with essay deadlines and exam dates without wasting pages over the summer break.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Campus Diary Free Monthly ScheduleMonthlySemi B5, A5, B6Cardstock cover
Year index
Lined pages in back

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Kokuyo Pat-mi Pocket Diary

The innovative Pat-mi Pocket Diary is a monthly calendar and vertical weekly planner in one! Each week has an hourly daily tracker while leaving the rest of the month visible. It’s an excellent planner addition that can help you visualize future events, but it is also useful. The Pat-mi Pocket Diary can be tucked into the back cover of a Jibun Techo, or any notebook that is B6 or larger.

kokuyo pat-mi
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Kokuyo Pat-mi Pocket DiaryMonthly, Vertical WeeklyB6 ModifiedCardstock cover
Hourly trackers

Traveler’s Company 

The Traveler’s Company Traveler’s notebook is a vintage-inspired, refillable notebook system. The high-quality leather cover uses elastic bands to attach various notebooks, allowing you to completely customize what you carry. It’s not just a good opor travelers—those who like everything they need for a day in one place will also enjoy the Traveler’s notebook and accessories. You can use a combination of planners and notebooks to catch all your thoughts.

Read my Traveler’s Notebook Guide.

Traveler’s Notebook Monthly Planner

Traveler's notebook planner
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Monthly PlannerMonthlyRegularPassportTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Blank pages in back
Informational pages
Sheet of decorative stickers

Shop now on Amazon US, or Etsy.

Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Vertical Planner 

Traveler's notebook weekly planner
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly Vertical PlannerVertical WeeklyRegularTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Hourly trackers
Sheet of decorative stickers

Buy Now from Amazon US or Etsy.

Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Planner

Traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly PlannerHorizontal WeeklyPassportTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Sheet of decorative stickers

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Traveler’s Notebook Weekly Planner with Memo

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Weekly Planner with MemoHalf Horizontal WeeklyRegularTwo half-year booklets
Cardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Year index
Sheet of decorative stickers

Buy Now from Amazon US, or Etsy.

These Traveler’s notebook refills are undated versions of the planner booklets mentioned above. Each notebook except for the Free Daily Planner Grid has enough pages to use it for six months.

Traveler’s notebook Free Daily Planner Grid

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Daily Planner GridDailyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Covers two months

Buy Now from Amazon US

Read More: Guide to the Best Bullet Journal Notebooks

Traveler’s notebook Free Monthly Planner

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Monthly PlannerMonthlyRegular, PassportCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Grid pages in front

Buy Passport Size Now from Amazon US

Buy Regular Size Now from Amazon US

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly PlannerFull Horizontal WeeklyPassportCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index

Buy Now from Amazon US

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner with Memo

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Planner with MemoHalf Horizontal WeeklyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index
Grid pages in front

Buy Now from Amazon US

Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Vertical Planner

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Traveler’s notebook Free Weekly Vertical PlannerVertical WeeklyRegularCardstock cover
Midori MD paper
Monthly index

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Midori

Don’t let the plain appearance of the Midori MD Diary fool you: these planners are packed with Midori’s luxurious MD paper. The cream-colored pages pair well with fountain pens and evoke the feeling of vintage books. The minimalist aesthetic is thoughtfully designed to provide just enough structure for planning. The undated pages in the back can be used as a weekly planner. The Thin sizes trade ruled pages for grid paper.

See Also: Beginners Guide to Fountain Pens

Midori MD Diary, Diary Thin

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori MD DiaryMonthlyA5, B6 Slim, A6Cardstock cover
Bookmark
Midori MD paper
Lined and blank pages in back
Stickers to label cover and spine
Midori MD Diary – ThinMonthlyA4, A5 ThinSlim size
Cardstock cover
Bookmark
Midori MD paper
Grid pages in back
Stickers to label cover and spine

Buy Now from Amazon Japan. Or look on JetPens.

Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary

From left to right: Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary A5 & A6 Sizes. 2020 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

Like the weekly version, the MD 1 Day 1 Page Diary has fourteen monthly calendars in the front. However, the bulk of this planner is made up of undated, daily pages. You can use it as a page a day planner, or skip pages as you wish.

traveler's notebook
NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori MD 1 Day 1 Page DiaryDailyA5, A6Flexible softcover
Two bookmarks
Midori MD paper
Hourly trackers
Lined paged in back
Index tab stickers

Read More: The Best Japanese Stationery on Etsy

Midori Pocket Diary

From left to right: Midori Pocket Diary B6 & Slim sizes. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

The adorable Pocket Diary is so cute that you might find yourself making plans just so you can schedule them in the notebook! Both versions of the Pocket Diary include themed calendars that change from month to month. The B6 planner also has weekly pages and index tabs that make it easy to flip to the right month.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Pocket DiaryHalf Horizontal WeeklyB6Flexible plastic cover with pen loop
Index tabs for each month
Year index
Monthly calendars
Themed pages
Lined pages in back
Midori Pocket Diary – SlimMonthlyMediumSlim size
Flexible plastic cover with pen loop
Year index
Monthly calendars
Themed pages
Lined pages in back

Midori Flat Diary

Midori Flat Diary. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

This planner fits in the A5 Pouch Diary, which was discontinued. If you own one from previous years, you can pair this planner with the cover. This lightweight planner can also be used on its own.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Flat DiaryMonthlyA5Monthly calendars

Midori Pouch Diary – Slim

Midori Pouch Diary – Slim size. 2021 version shown. Planner cover design may differ slightly year to year.

This planner is compatible with the discontinued Slim Pouch Diary. If you own a cover, you can continue using it with this refill. Alternatively, its everyday carry-friendly size makes it an excellent stand-alone planner.

NameFormatSizeFeatures
Midori Pouch Diary – SlimHalf Horizontal WeeklySlimSlim size
Two bookmarks
Year index
Monthly calendars
Lined pages in back

Which planner will you be using to organize your tasks and reach your goals in this year? Is there another Japanese brand you love more than the four mentioned? Let me know! If you need help finding Japanese stationery online, make sure to check out our post Here.

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