Review: The bound Japanese Franklin Covey Planner – a rival to the Hobonichi

The Japanese version of the Franklin Covey planner should be better known. It’s a day-per -page planner printed on Tomoe River paper, in A5 Hobonichi Cousin size, so it’s a great alternative to a Hobonichi.

The planner is a Monday start for all weeks and months. It opens with a page for your details, and an overview for 2018 & 2019 on one page.


All the months are together at the beginning of the planner, then all the daily pages are grouped together after this. There’s a double-page spread for each month, starting with December 2017 (although there are no daily pages for December). There’s room for a Master task list down the right hand side, and plenty of extra room at the bottom of each monthly page spread.


There are two double-page spreads for 2019 future planning, then the daily pages start. There’s no similar yearly view for 2018 in the planner.


My favorite feature of the FC is each week begins with a Weekly Compass page. This gives you a place to write all the weekly tasks you need to do, as well as identify your “big rocks” aka key tasks for your roles (if you’re not familiar with the FC method, there’s a basic primer here. A weekly task list is crucial to my own planning, so I find this superior to the Hoboncihi layout.


Then there’s a day per page which is very similar to the Hobonichi layout, but you have even more space, as there’s no quote at the foot of the page. The top has a daily task list, and the appointment bar runs in half hours from 7am to 11pm. The grid is 4mm, and light enough it’s easy to ignore if you prefer to go freeform.


The paper is the same excellent quality, fountain pen friendly, as the Hobonichi. The cover is plain white card, with two ribbon bookmarks.

fc cover

The back has three blank double-page note spreads. The edges of each page are marked with the month to make it easier to navigate through the planner, but they’re all in one color – burgundy – instead of multiple colors as in the Hobonichi.

fc 30

The spine is cool, as you can see the stitched binding.


The main difference is the Franklin Covey (FC) doesn’t have the weekly view, but for me the weekly page more than makes up for it. However, even without this extra section, because of the weekly page the FC is pretty much the same thickness as the Hobonichi, just a smidgeon thinner.


Hobonichi Cousin on the bottom, Franklin Covey on top.


But we’re not done! With the FC planner you also get a separate Organizer Planner Guide and Forms. This is a 95-page booklet that contains a bunch of cool organize-y stuff you can use for wasting time instead of actually being productive.

The first 15 pages explain how to use the Franklin Covey system with the planner. Explains in Japanese, that is.


There are sections for writing down your roles, values, mission statement, and six Goal Planning Pages. If you’re familiar with the Franklin Covey system it doesn’t matter at all this is in Japanese, you can totally work out what you’re doing.






This is followed by Monthly Expense Trackers, Budget Worksheets, Yearly Income and Expense Tracking, and an Annual Summary of Expenses.





Then come three Meeting Planner double-pages, four pages of Contacts, four pages of Client Files, four Information Records, and three Project Planners.






Finally the booklet rounds off with calendar pages for 2017-2020, and one page each for future planning 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, broken down by month.



The booklet ends with 17 notes pages with dotted lines 4mm apart. If you write large this is a small scale, but again the gray dotted lines are easy to ignore.

Both books together will fit into a Hobonichi cover, as well as all the A5 covers I’ve got.

I bought mine on Rakuten Global Market and it was shipped fast and efficiently. I got a version without any cover, because the gods know I have enough journal covers, but the planner does come with very basic colored covers as well. If you’re interested in trying one make sure you order the bound version, otherwise you’re going to get the regular ringbound planner pages which Franklin Covey also produce for the US market. You also want to make sure you’re buying the daily planner, as there is a weekly one available too. The planner comes in B6 as well as A5. Basically you need to search Rakuten for:

Notebook system notebook Franklin planner 2018 that I bind it and begin in notebook January, 2018, and there is no Franklin planner in A5 organizer cover

The cost is US$29.55 vs US$33.26 for the Hobonichi Cousin. Shipping is still pricey because EMS is expensive, but you save the 500 yen handling fee Hobonichi charge.

Although it’s tempting as a delicious time-waster I won’t be using the Forms booklet; I don’t have meetings or clients to track. But for 2018 I’m going to try the planner as my daily carry notebook for lists and to-dos, in a Hobonichi cover. I’ll be planning my work out and tracking my progress in a different planner my friend Katie gave me, which I will review at some future date. I don’t want to overwhelm y’all with planner reviews: I seriously have enough to post a couple a week for months. I bought a shit-ton of planners to audition as potentials for next year (let’s not discuss how bloody much this cost me) including some I couldn’t get shipped to me in NZ and bought while I was in the US. It’s going to be seriously shaming to share them all with you. But, you know, it’s a cheaper vice than cocaine? Or polo ponies?

6 thoughts on “Review: The bound Japanese Franklin Covey Planner – a rival to the Hobonichi

  1. Ok, weird, the “like” buttons aren’t loading. ARGH, FIREFOX, WHY ARE YOU SUCH A PITA?! (They load fine in Chrome.)


    ANYWAY. I’m a little concerned about the total number of planners. What %age of your luggage was planners on the way home?! 😮

    1. oh, god, it’s so embarrassing. When I got to Katie’s place she had a literal *pile* of parcels for me, like it was Xmas and I was 12, except I bought all my presents myself. Most of them were undated, though? So, technically I can still use them *all* at some undefined point in the future if I stop buying dated planners?

  2. Margarita

    i ordered this planner via rakuten as well and now waiting for its arrival. Could you please advice if the paper color is the same as Hobonichi? I wonder should i ordered also another Hobo for daily notes

    1. the paper is basically exactly the same color as the Hobonichi. The grid is printed in dark grey, instead of the color printing in the Hobonichi, and overall I think this makes the Franklin look slightly less warm. I use a Hobonichi memo book or a Leuchtturm Medium Jottbook as a daily notes book as I can carry this with my daily planner in one cover, and keep everything together.

  3. Lori

    Thanks for this review! I have been a Franklin planner person for years, long before there was even a Franklin Covey. I always vacillated between classic & compact sizes and hate how much space they take up in storage over time. So I switched to an A6 Hobonichi in 2017 and didn’t think I would like it but I did. So I bought another in 2019 and moved up to an A5 Avec in 2019. For 2020 I went back to a DayTimer and, while I like the size for portability, I’m not liking the paper or the longterm storage requirements. –I primarily use fountain pens and DayTimer paper isn’t horrible, but it isn’t Tomoe River.

    I’ve searched for the 2020 version of this Japanese Franklin Planner, both in a general web search and at Rakuten. Do you know if they still make this? If so, could you please post a link?

    Thanks for your reply and thanks again for the review!

    1. yes! They do still have them for sale on Amazon Japan

      At the link there are ones with the cover, or without, in A5, A6 and B6, as well as the refills and binders. I got the B6 Habits version for 2020.

      I am feeling stressed that Amazon Japan stopped shipping to NZ in October 2019 so I’ll have to find another option for 2021.

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