Hobonichi Avec – unboxing and first impressions. 

Disclaimer: this is going to be an image heavy post. Also, the companies mentioned in this post are not sponsoring me. They don’t even know who I am. The views and blunders are my own. Thank you. 

All photos are © 2015, DianaQ/www.cafenox.org. The products are Hobonichi’s.

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After listening to customer feedback, the Hobonichi people released a split version of their planner for those who like the idea, but don’t want to carry a full sized planner/notebook around. It first came out for the 2015 edition.

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The Avec is split in two: January-June in one volume, July-December in another. The volumes have different color covers, and are printed with the year and the month range they contain. They are meant to be sold together, but for the rest of this year, they are allowing people to buy the second volume on its own.

This single volume was released on June 1st (evening of May 31st in the U.S.), is half the price of a full Hobonichi and if you’ve been interested in the full planner, but aren’t sure yet – like me – it’s a good way of testing the waters without committing full price.

I placed my order on May 31st and it arrived on June 9th – with a weekend in the middle – in case you’re wondering about travel times.

Now, let’s get onto the fun stuff.

UNBOXING

The Avec arrives in a sturdy box inside a mailing bag. There isn’t any padding inside the box, but everything is individually wrapped.


 

I ordered the Avec and the green template. The pen and tissue holder were added for free. From what I’ve seen in other reviews, these two seem to be often added to purchases. I wish I still had Japanese tissue, haha. I love their holders.

The pen is a tricolor (blue/black/red) fine point Uni and it has Hobonichi imprinted on the clip.

The template has useful checklist, numbers, arrows, etc to help plan. It also has a faint imprint of a grid that matches up with the grid paper in the book. This way, you can line everything up when using the template.

The package also contains a folded flyer with information about the Hobonichi. It’s in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says, but the reverse side has illustrations on a variety of daily activities to highlight the many things you can chronicle in your notebook. My son tried to help me with the flyer, hehe.

I’m a book sniffer. I couldn’t help myself. Smells good.

>_>
<_<

The full Hobonichi has monthly, weekly and daily sections. The Avec, however, doesn’t have the weekly section.

Now, let’s crack this open.

After the cover sheet, you have the current year on one page for quick reference and the previous and next year on the opposite page.

The next four pages are months at a glance. The first two have Jul-Dec 2015 and the next Jan-Jun 2016, so you can do  quick planning ahead. Saturdays are coded in grey, Sundays in red and Japanese holidays in pink. Each month has a 3 item checklist above and extra space below.

The month on two pages section follows right after. Same color coding for easy reference. Month number on the top left corner and in English just below. The layout also has a quick 5 item checklist for monthly goals on the left, plus blank space on the side and below for extra notes. Same color coding for weekends and holidays.

After the month sections, the daily pages come right up. Starting July 1st, all the way to December 31st. These are followed by blank grid pages for any subject you wish.

The following pages have specific subjects. If you live in Japan, you’ll find uses to all of the information. If you live elsewhere, they might be hit or miss.

First off, Anniversaries and Favorites.

Followed by Graph Paper and a Time Table.

Then a Gifts checklist and a Kanji writing primer.

I……don’t reay know about these. My Japanese is rusty at best.

Followed by Country codes and Conversion tables.

Followed by a breakdown on holidays and information about the notebook.

The holiday page includes a breakdown of the daily pages legend. Month/Day/moon phase. Under the moon phase is a day count for the year.

A memo page with address information for four people. Not sure about the opposite page.

Then personal information, plus the company’s information. All Hobonichi are number stamped on the inside back cover.

Let’s get a closer look at the daily page.

The daily pages are color coded by month. Everything on the daily page – grid, numbers, etc – for that month will be the same color.

Under the date, there is a column that goes from 6 am to 3 am, for you to log appointments (the English version of the Hobonichi only has noon printed along the column). Then, there’s a subtle solid line dividing the schedule from the rest of the page.

Next to the date, there’s a 5 item checklist, then all blank grid.

You can see how all the daily pages group nicely by month from the side.

FIRST IMPRESSION

I’m so used to how some popular planners are organized (monthly, weekly and daily layouts together), that it was odd to see the monthly and daily layouts grouped separately.

In many planners,keeping the layouts for each month together, results in wasted space when the last day(s) of a month fall midweek. Then you have a weekly spread that belongs to two months and usually ends up printed twice: one at the end of the previous month, then again at the beginning of the next month.

By keeping the layouts separately, space is well used, allowing the months and days to flow naturally. I haven’t seen the weekly layout, but I’m going to go out on a random limb and say that they flow as well (correct me if I’m wrong, please).

I’m not sure yet if I’ll miss the two page weekly layout, because I don’t have many appointments/meetings these days.   If you need this kind of layout to do your planning,  you’ll have to take that into consideration before purchasing. They do sell a weekly layout booklet you can carry along.

A few reviewers of the Avec combo make the point that if you put the regular Hobonichi next to the stacked Avec volumes, the split notebooks are thicker.  It’s not surprising, considering that there’s two extra cardboard covers in the middle to contend with.

I ordered the A5 Avec. If you’re unfamiliar with the A class paper sizes, an A5 is 5 3/4 in x 8 1/4 in, roughly half of a letter sized page. It is also offered in an A6 size, which is half of the A5.

I fell in love with both A5 and B5 (yet another class) paper sizes in Japan and I think this will be the perfect planner size for me. It is large enough for me to draw/plan, but not so large that it’ll be bulky in my purse.

I didn’t order a cover for the notebook because I wasn’t sure if I’d like it or not and I wanted to stay within my spending limit. I do have some version of a cover coming in the mail and I’ll do a post on it when it arrives about why I chose it instead. If I do end up loving the Hobonichi, I might go for an official cover when I order the 2016 planner.

The Hobonichi is renowned for its Tomoe River paper. It can take  almost any kind of ink, plus watercolors, markers and their cousins. I’m a ballpoint pen, Sharpie pen and colored pencil user and I’ll be putting the Tomoe to the test. I can tell you, that the paper feels good and smooth. I haven’t had much of a chance to doodle on it, so I can’t tell you more than this yet. I will continue playing around with it and once the cover arrives I will make an update post with all the information.

If you’re not sure what you’d use this notebook for, the Hobonichi website can help you with some ideas. You can also search #hobonichi on Intagram.

How much is the expense?  The notebook + green template + shipping and fees came up to 3943円. With the exchange rate for the day I placed the order, it was $31.89.

HOW CAN YOU ORDER AN AVEC?

First, go to the Hobonichi store and scroll to the bottom. The Avec is currently only available in Japanese. You will see both the single volume and the double volume listed. However, the double volume is the 2015 edition and the first half would be useless to you by now. New planners get listed in September, and you’d be able to buy the 2016 volume then.

Click on the Avec of your choice A6 (1188円) or A5 (2052円)

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Once inside the product page, add your planner to the cart. When I ordered mine, there was a prompt, and I simply clicked OK.

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Once in your cart, you can click under English to change the language. If you’re done shopping, you can just keep going from here and finish. If you have more purchases to make (covers, accessories, etc), you can click in ‘continue shopping’.

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Now….I’ve had two things happen here: once it went into the English store and once it went into the Japanese store again. If the later happens, you can just change the language by clicking on the top left choice.

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And now I will go play with this planner. I’ll hopefully have an update for you soon!!

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