Hobonichi Safari (Olive) Review: Pockets! Pockets! Pockets!

I am deeply and irrevocably in love with my 2017 Hobonichi cover: the Safari (Olive) for the A5 Cousin.


A Hobonichi cover is my everyday carry. It’s what I use instead of a wallet, because it’s better than a wallet: it’s a wallet and a journal. I don’t need a bag – I can leave the house with just my journal cover. I don’t actually use it for my Hobonichi, but rather a blank A5 journal. Currently I’m in the Taroko Engima – 480 pages of 68 gsm dot-grid Tomoe River paper in a lie-flat binding. The cover also works for pretty much any A5 journal or sketchbook, like the medium Leuchtturm 1917, the Nanami Seven Seas Writer or Crossfield, or a Rhodia Webnotebook.

So, you may remember my gripe with the regular Hobonichi covers is that the pen loops are too big (hence why I lost my Copper Lamy AL-Star to the wheels of an SUV). Also, I wish it had some way of fastening apart from a separate elastic closure like the Rivet Band Laccio. I don’t like closing it with a pen through both loops the way Hobonichi suggest because I find that awkward. I actually hack the front pen loop off my covers because it pisses me off flapping about to no purpose.

And Lo! Hobonichi heard the anguish in my soul and provided the solution: the Safari.


It’s literally my perfect journal cover. My stationery soulmate.


The front card pockets and leather smile pocket hold all my bits of plastic for 21st century life: debit/credit cards, insurance, library, coffee, breakdown assistance etc. Behind the card pockets is a long  pocket I’m currently using for a couple of movie vouchers and a store credit note. I keep my quarterly, monthly & weekly plans slipped in beside the journal cover. My Hobonichi ruler hooks over the top of the cover, too.


In the back is a secretary pocket, for letters to post, prescriptions to fill, grocery lists etc.


Behind this are three more spacious card pockets which I use for sticky notes & adhesive strips. And behind those is another long pocket for cash, letters, itineraries, schedules, etc.


But that’s not all! On the outside of the front flap are another two medium-sized pockets.


And it still has the large Hobonichi back pocket, ideal for receipts, letters, or a Hobonichi memo book, which slips inside perfectly.

This is not correct for color: it’s way too green. The other photos are pretty accurate.

As a public service I experimented with getting a Leuchtturm softcover A5 Jottbook in there, but the pocket’s not quite big enough. Maybe it would stretch with time to give you more room, but I don’t want to stretch mine out. It holds my phone like a dream

That’s a Samsung Galaxy Grand in the pocket.

There’s one single pen loop, the perfect size for a Lamy, a Coletto, or my 3-color Frixion, or for two regular-sized pens. A sturdy gold dome fastens the whole thing.


My Enigma is fatter than a Hobonichi Cousin or a Seven Seas journal. It’s 30mm thick (just under 1 & 1/4 inches). My pockets are packed, and you can see this is about as thick as you’d want to go. If you watercolor in your journal and end up with a two-inch-thick bulging book, the Safari may not be the option for you.

side-viewThe cover is made from a nylon twill which feels smooth and almost silky to touch, plus cleans up easy. The trim is leather. The bookmarks are kind of like . . . boot laces? Does that sound weird? They’re flat and plaited, with leather tips, and have a subtle glaze on them which has a slightly crispy hand.


There’s an A6 version too, in navy, which is cute as a button, but I don’t use an A6 journal, and it has insufficient delicious pockets. But if you prefer a smaller everyday carry notebook, it’s an option.

I slept with my Hobonichi cover the day we met. Go ahead and judge me. It’s true love, you guys. You can pry it from my frigid, decaying fingers. It makes my life better. I don’t care that it cost USD $93 before shipping. I seriously want to buy two more and hoard them like precious, precious gold for the inevitable moment when this one wears out. Want to apart from the, you know, having no job thing.

If you want a sturdy, practical, gorgeously-designed journal cover for an everyday carry, check out this one on the Hobonichi website while they’re still available.

7 thoughts on “Hobonichi Safari (Olive) Review: Pockets! Pockets! Pockets!

  1. I have zero doubts as to your commitment to this planner cover after reading your post! 😀 And I’m pretty sure I recognize a couple of things from your demo photos. 😉

    1. They make one called the Porter which has a shoulder strap, but it doesn’t ship internationally 😦 Also it doesn’t have the interior back pockets, instead there’s a single mesh pocket. It is cool, though. I wouldn’t personally use one with a shoulder strap, but I see the practical advantages.

      Yes, I do have the Japanese version of the Cousin. I like the Japanese versions much more. The months are different colors, the grid is smaller, and the layout of the page is more aesthetically pleasing. With the Japanese versions you still get the days of the week in English, and I didn’t realize until I started using a Hobonichi that I do think of month 3, month 7, month 11 in my head. I don’t need the English names for the months on a planner. Also they don’t make the English language planner in A5 Cousin, only the teeny A6.

  2. Pingback: Go Kokuyo part 1: Jibun Techo & accessories review – With a Squid Ink Pen

  3. Harrrrr I totally am with you on this! I LOVE my Safari Cover! First ordered the navy one, fell in love and snapped the Safari out of the store in the very last minute before it vanished. Great idea to put the phone in the back pocket! ❤
    Will try to get my hands on any of the japanese notebooks you recommend, would love to give the Kokuyo a try, but cannot get it via Amazon…
    love your posts!

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