Planner Review: Kokuyo Jibun Techo B6 Slim 2018 Planner

The Kokuyo Jibun Techo is taking the planner world by storm. this year. It seems like it popped up into the community overnight but it seems to have been a slow build over the last year that has blossomed making the 2018 Jibun Techo THE planner to get this year. If you are unfamiliar with the Jibun Techo, it comes in a B6 Slim, an A5 Slim and a Biz version in the A5 Slim or B6 Slim. The Slim connotation essentially means that the sizing doesn’t fit the standard dimensions of A5 or B6. The regular editions have a very graphic, almost futuristic styling while the Biz edition has a more sedate styling.

There are two ways to purchase the standard edition: as a 3-book set with a LIFE book, an IDEA book, and the 2018 planner or as the individual components.

I got the Mini B6 Slim 2018 planner in Green. Since the entire system is in Japanese, the LIFE book ($10 purchased separately), which is designed to be a book that moves from one year to the next (and has all the details written in Japanese) I decided it wasn’t really going to be all that useful for me. There are dozens of videos on YouTube of other people flipping through it, trying to discern the purpose of each page if you’re curious about the LIFE book. The 3-book system also includes the IDEA books (pack of 2 for $9.10) which are blank books like Traveler’s notebook inserts for lists, to do’s and additional information. These are easily purchased separately so if I decided to add these, I could. However, I have several Hobonichi Techos that I plan to use in 2018, so I decided that I did not need the IDEA books right now, so I skipped on the 3-book set. If you are diving into this system, you might find the 3-book version more flexible and a lot of people are taken with the LIFE book.

SIDE NOTE: I’ll have reviews and details about my Hobonichis and covers and how I’ll be using them in the next couple weeks. I will also have a guest review about the Jibun Techo Biz A5 Slim coming soon.

The Jibun Techo comes with a flexible plastic cover that has a pocket on the front that runs horizontal and a pocket on the back that runs vertical for sliding papers or ephemera. Unlike the cover-on-cover from Hobonichi, the Jibun cover is included with the planner purchase and is a matte finish rather than shiny. Inside are three business card slots and vertical secretary pockets both front and back. Additional plastic sleeve pockets can be purchased if you want more room to tuck papers and ephemera into your cover.  The plastic cover can be removed completely.

If you remove the cover, you’ll discover that the paper cover stamped with the date is a simple paper wrap. It’s not cardstock. This is probably a good bit of information to know since there are not a ton of color covers to choose from. If you are even slightest bit DIY, you can easily make a new cover by measuring the existing cover and cutting paper to the same size. I have not done this yet but I did tuck a postcard from Uppercase, trimmed down a bit, into the front pocket as a bit of embellishment.

Underneath this wrap  is the actual book cover which is a stiff cream cover with a thread tape binding like a Midori notebook.

The first thing to note is that the paper in the Jibun Techo is definitely Tomoe River. What weight it is, I’m not exactly sure but it is good quality, fountain pen friendly paper with a dashed grid design on the pages and a warm white color.

The squares are a mere 3mm though so you had better be prepared to get out your XF or EXF pens. I included a regular pencil in the photos above for scale but I didn’t dare try to write in the spaces with one. If you ever wanted to try an 0.3mm mechanical pencil, this would be the planner for it.

The one upgrade or accessory I did add to the Jibun Techo was the writing board (I bought mine from Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS for $11). It doubles as a “today” page marker and creates a smooth, firm writing surface. It also prevents indentations from passing to the next page due to pressing too hard on the lightweight Tomoe River paper. In a pinch, it can be a blotter card as well. One side is solid dark grey with a ruler down one side and the other side is the same dark grey with light grey dotted grid with the ruler down the edge. I cannot actually see the grid through the planner paper so it doesn’t really matter which side is facing up or down. The tab is light grey on one side and sky blue on the other.

The Jibun Techo planner has two slim ribbon bookmarks which are not sealed on the ends so I immediately dipped the ends in white glue (like Elmer’s school glue) to seal the ends to keep them from fraying. It makes them a bit stiff when I do this but I don’t like the shredded look of frayed ends. Its a pet peeve.

Now let’s get into the actual planner part of the planner…

Inside is a “How-To Use the Jibun Techo”, written in both English and Japanese but the details are in Japanese. I immediately grasped the 4-year calendar, yearly schedule, some of the lists and plans and so forth but the Age Chart, Promise List and My Dream are still a little befuddling.

I’m assuming the My Dream is like a Bucket List? And I get some of the Age List but not all of it. If someone can explain what a Promise List is for or how it differs from a to-do list, please let me know.

The page shown above is what is listed as the Monthly Project but what a lot of people are seeing as a great place for habit tracking. There is space for several different things (even using 2 lines you could fit 12 activities each month) and include doing it twice like going for a walk, taking medicine, or brushing your teeth. If the only thing you want to track is drinking 8 glasses of water a day, you can just take up a whole chunk of space for that. It depends on how granular you want to get about your life.

So, on to the core of the planner! First, is the monthly calendars which feature big, blocky numbers that remind me of playing the video game Wipeout. Next to each day is a face indicating happy, neutral or sad so you can track your mood each day. The monthly calendar is set up with Monday starts and Saturday and Sunday on the far right which might be different for some Americans but is common for European and Asian planners and is consistent with the rest of the planner.

Next, the biggest part of the planner, the Weekly pages:

Towards the front of the planner is a “Weekly Plan” page. You can use this as a test page or if you like to have baseline plane for your week, you can outline it here. I’m going to use this page to describe the basic page layout.

On the far left is a column for to-do’s. Every other line has a check box. I use the space to divide up between work to-do’s, personal, shopping, bills, etc. The space allows me to draw a line between them and clump them together. The rest of the page is the seven days of the week, equally divided, starting with Monday and going to Sunday in vertical columns. The columns are full 24 hours so you can account for your sleep, evening activities as well as your daily schedule or if you are someone who works nights, evenings of weekends, you can actually schedule all of that in easily. At the bottom is space for additional notes, the same face icons to document your mood, sun icons to document sunrise and sunset (I’m guessing here)  and a star at the bottom for your most important to-do of the day (again I’m guessing but you could assign a purpose to it). At the very top of each day, below the date is weather icons to document the day’s weather and space for marking a special event .

Did I mention that the Jibun Techo planner start on November 1, 2017? Okay, big news! I got to start using it this week so I am just getting my feet wet this week. you are seeing my real world use of it thus far. I haven’t gotten to inputting my sleep schedule or the weather but using it for my actual work and meetings and to-do’s is really effective. I always think I’m not going to like the vertical layout calendars but I love it. I like seeing how much time I have between meetings to actually work. The calendar has the time in 24-hour which is taking some getting used to since no one in the US outside the military actually uses 24-hour time. So when I get a meeting invite, I have to translate the “meeting from 2:30pm – 3:30pm” into “14:30-15:30” and put it into my Jibun Techo.

The dark dots on the weekly pages relate to the sunrise and sunset times in Japan, according to some of the videos I watched on YouTube… if you were curious.

Finally, in the back of the planner are some information pages like subway maps of major cities in Japan, time differences, a personal data page and an information page for Jibun Techo on Facebook and Twitter from Kokuyo.

I’m really happy with the B6 Slim Jibun Techo thus far. Its definitely way more function-based than the Hobonichi. The Hobonichi is very open-ended and can be very intimidating for a lot of people. The Jibun Techo has a lot of very defined spaces but those can be customized to individual needs and purposes. With just the planner, the Jibun Techo is super small and compact. It has the option to be super granular if you want it to be plus the paper is fountain pen friendly. However, be prepared to write REALLY SMALL.

Where the Hobonichi is basically a cult at this point, the Jibun Techo has the chance to be whatever you want it to be. It could be a planner that helps you stay organized or the next planner cult. You get to choose. And because the Jibun Techo starts in November, you can start using it right now!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.


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16 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The sun-rise, sun, and star icon at the bottom is to write down what you ate for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner!

    Of course, I’ve seen people ignore the marks and use it for something completely different during my web browsing of JT while I wait for mine to come!

    And the Dark colors on the 24-hour marks means the sun is set, and lighter color means sun is out just like you said.
    Though, I don’t think Japan does Daylight Savings like the US does, so sunset/sunrise hours will differ during US daylight savings months I think.

    1. Thanks for the info! Why didn’t I think of that regarding the meals! I assumed the Japanese didn’t do daylight savings time so the dark and light dots won’t correlate exactly and also where one lives will also affect what time the sun rises and sets but it’s a close approximation.

  2. Great review, thank you. I considered getting one of these but decided against it because of the width of the daily columns. It just irritated me that nearly every entry ran on to a second line. I write fairly small but feel that since a line covers a half hour, you should be able to write something discretely for that period. You probably can in Japanese lettering. Apart from that I liked it. I am going Cousin for 2018 which is a bit too big – but Techo’s not big enough!

    1. Thanks for asking. She is not too happy with us. She’s had to wear the “cone of shame” because she insists on licking her stitches and she’s woozy from the painkillers. The vet says five days should be enough for her incision to heal but it’s going to be a long five days. Sometimes being a responsible pet owner is hard.

  3. Thank you for this thorough review! It’s funny — as a Hobonichi user, I find the Jibun Techo incredibly intimidating because it’s just SO BUSY. Those pages have a lot going on! So I’m really looking forward to all the follow-up posts about the Jibun that will start popping up in 6 months or so because I enjoy seeing how people end up using their notebooks. 🙂

  4. Thanks for a great review!

    JetPens have a really clear blog post which translates the Japanese on the ‘how to use’ page.

    There’s a Jibun Techo users group on Facebook, I saw a link to an Etsy seller who does the headers in English as stickers sized to fit the Techo – B6 slim or A5 slim.

    Also, a reminder – the health industry also uses 24 hour time even in the US so this is great for doctors and nurses etc. When I was nursing I just remembered to add 12 if it was after midday, so 2pm becomes 14:00. I struggle to think in 12 hour time now that I’m no longer nursing. ☺️

    1. Thanks for the info. I’m not super Kathy so sometimes just adding 12 is enough to stump me when I get to later hours.

  5. Finally a planner that gives equal space to all days of the week! My biggest planner peeve is when Sat/Sun get squished together — as if weekends aren’t busy! But I’d need to take up about 3 lines to accommodate my large writing, so I guess this isn’t for me. Appreciate the thorough review, though. (And fun to get a sneak peek of upcoming reviews! 😉 )

  6. The system is unfortunately too much for me. I wouldn’t use much of the trackers, and “set your target” page in planners always bring gloom to my heard (such as in LIFE) 🙁
    And if they could use a more conservative font, like in the Campus Diary. I think it’s the colour and boxy fonts that made it look very busy to me.

    Promise page is a place for verbal promises. Such as if you promise to go visit family next summer, or someone borrow your money and promise to return it.
    Somewhat looser than a to-do commitment.

    Gift page is to track gifts you give because it’s probably best practice in Japan to return the favour rather than keep being indebted for it. 😀

    1. You might prefer the business version which has less boxy fonts. The trackers might still exist but there is only a page or two at the front and I’ve chosen to just skip those for the time being.

  7. I purchased Jibun Techo Kit A5 and began using it the middle of November. I have to say, I am loving this planner. I was using a regular size TN with a planner I designed and printed myself. I really liked my TN setup (no stickers or art, just to the point planning), but I am really connecting with this Jibun setup quickly. It is very efficient to me and very lightweight. The paper is amazing, though the previous used pages are curling slightly at the edges which bugs me slightly, but that’s a given with such lightweight paper.
    I don’t use a fountain pen, I use a Coleto with 0.3 colored cartridges. I write small and precise anyway, so the Coleto in the sections of the Jibun works excellently, fitting the areas perfectly, and looks clear and concise.
    Weekly pages. I couldn’t find a printed planner with days beginning at 6am, so I made my own, but now with Jibun, no more printing or designing or searching for layouts. Tracking the weather is fun, though here in the Pac. NW, it rains quite a bit, so the umbrella box gets lots of use. The meal section at the bottom is so useful for me in planning manus for the week. I prefer a Monday start so again this layout is perfect for that. The left column is extremely useful planning the weeks ToDo’s, then I use the small section below each day for that days NeedTo’s, and anything super important goes at the top in red ink. I mark off sleep areas to track sleep, which is interesting.
    The Monthly spread is sized perfectly for my needs with plenty of room on the left and bottom for listing important items, and makes summarizing the month super quick.
    I am using the monthly Gannt chart pages definitely for tracking. With children, pets and myself it is so useful to track things such as illness, meds, exercise, etc.
    The four year calendar is great to have, and not found in most planners.
    Year at a glance page is always important for planning. This one’s sections are very small but I haven’t had a problem yet.
    The Age Chart is interesting and I guess could be helpful as I age and possibly forget how old I am, lol.
    My Dream page I use for big goals for the year.
    Money Plan, I haven’t used yet, as I have a separate finance book, but I will be using it as a basic financial/budget overview at a glance, incorporating expenses, income, savings, etc.
    Weekly Plan, not used. I don’t have a set weekly plan.
    Favorite Phrases page is filling up quick. “Life is like a coin, you can spend it anyway you want, but you can only spend it once.”
    Recommendation List I use for noting restaurants, activities, stores, places to visit, items to buy, etc. that people tell me about that I want to remember.
    Book List, filling up also. Current read…”Close to Shore.” The real life ‘Jaws’ story. True story that reads like an exciting thriller novel.
    Movie List, self explanatory and useful.
    Gifts, given and received, I use for thank you card reminders, gifts given and enjoyed, etc.
    Promise List, I am using this for keeping track of promises, things I’ve committed to God, others and myself.
    Personal Data, I don’t use.
    Life book, I use but still working on filling it out. I love how it carries through from year to year and will be nice to look back on over time, or for my kids to review in time.
    Idea book is a must have and another reason I used a TN with inserts. I do brain purges, and planning and the layout of this book with the sectioned pages will be much more useful than the blank pages I was using. I also like the way these pages are in a separate book, so I can swap out for new ones when filled.
    Shitajiki, writing board. I don’t care for this item. Though I thought it would be very useful serving two purposes, it isn’t for me, so it’s not used. The attached elastic sounded great to keep the planner closed but in reality, it is cumbersome and slips out of pocket while positioning. I need something quick and efficient that works everytime like the elastic around my TN. Also because the elstice is fastened to the board it creates an impossible surface for writing on either side because of elastic or eyelet fasteners. A separate shitajiki board and separate closure would be much better.
    Plastic cover is nice quality and the pockets are great for storage. I did cut a sheet of pretty paper to size in place of the one it came with, and I like the idea that I can change it easily and inexpensivly, at a whim.
    Hopes this helps others. 🙂

  8. super-tempted to get a Kokuyo Jibun Techo & but this year I got an a6 Stalogy 365Days Notebook & a 2017 a6 Muji planner for projects and in the end both ended up being unused & I found myself solely relying on my a6 Hobonichi.

  9. Hey — I actually use 24-hr time with no time in the military.

    To be fair, however, I did spend a year in Brazil, where that was standard. The logic stuck with me (as did the permanent desire for us to move to metric measures…)

  10. Hello, I would like to know how you like this Jibun now that you have had it and used it for a good amount of time? Or did you stop isong it? Was it the A6mini or slim or A5 slim? Compared to the Hobonichi what do you think now? I’m thinkning of getting the A6 slim, since it is similar to the weeks. Thank you for your assistance, Lily

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