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looking back to planners used in 2023 - Sunny Planner

Updated: Dec 12, 2023



stickersswissmade - blog post 06/2023



My decision to use a Filofax Notebook with Leuchtturm paper in 2024 was not a straight forward decision (as described here) but was a journey with good planners and not so good ones:



planner stack of 2023 - blog post 06/2023


Today I would like to show you my set up in a very special Japanese planner: The Sunny Free Daily Note Planner from Iroha


Iroha is a japanese company which sells different planners. Their line of Sunny Schedule books contains three different planners:

  • weekly vertical planner

  • monthly book

  • Free Daily Notebook



I was using the Free Daily Notebook in 2023.


This book has a size of 128x182mm, this is the Japanese B6 size. The book itself is a very plain one, just a white cardboard outside and has a spine covered in mesh paper, just like the Midori Notebooks or the Japanese bound Franklin Planners.

It is therefore meant to be used with a cover. Iroha sells covers as well, you can order just the book as a refill or with a cover.



planner spine of Sunny Planner - mesh tape
spine with mesh tape


The layout would be as follows:

  • yearly overviews (last year, this year, next 2 years)

  • yearly overview of 2023 on four pages, perpetual style

  • monthly overviews in box style, starting with December 2022 until January 2024

  • Index pages

  • 365 note pages

  • at the end: wishlist pages, world + Japan map, book list, watch list, spot list, shopping list, treasure list, information pages (age, paper sizes, cloth sizes), adress boxes

  • 2 pages markers in yellow and grey

  • english and japanese writing but english more prominent, japanese can be totally ignored as very small



What really makes this planner so special are the note pages at the back: 365 pages! You can use one page per day if you like to!

These note pages have page numbers at the lower corner, printed in yellow. It is therefore very easy to use the index pages.


This planner has a very minimalistic layout, light grey print and yellow highlights. And this minimalism shows up on the notepages as well, a whole page of grid boxes, just at the top a small white space to write down the date or a header, otherwise no other text or small monthly boxes or drawings, just plain space for writing.

With this minimalistic color layout the planner can be used with a lot of colored inks or pencils, you can feel free to add a lot of color either with pens or washi and the layout will not clash with any color which you add.



The other special thing of this planner: it has a 2.5mm grid!

This sounds very tiny and to be honest, I`m not able to write in each box, this is just too small. From what I have seen it is supposed to be perfect for Japanese writing.

But, when you use two boxes, you have a "normal" 5mm grid layout. Which makes this grid layout very usable.


Other Japanese planners, like Hobonichi or Franklin Planner, often have a grid size of below 4mm, which is starting to get tiny to write in, especially if you are using broad nibs in fountain pens; good to use with fine nibs or extra fine nibs though.

Using two boxes of this small grid size would give you a bit less than 8mm grid size, which is just too big. This is why I always struggle with tiny grid sizes. I really like 4.5 or 5mm grid size.


But 2.5mm gives you a 5mm grid with two boxes, which is the perfect grid size to write in, at least for me with broad nibs.


The daily pages have a very small time line on the left side. It is for 24 hours, starting at 4am, ending on 3am, in a 24hours layout.

From 9am to 6pm (18:00) you have half hour divisions, you could break it down into quarter hours if you write very small as these hours have 4 lines, the other hours have two lines.

Slightly darker lines create hourly boxes.


But, you can ignore this time line very well, if you don`t want to use it. The lines are very light and can easily be ignored and do not bother you while writing over them.




(scroll to the right) -

comparison grid size of Leuchtturm paper and Sunny Planner



The paper


For me another very important aspect of a planner is the paper. Normally you would now say, I bet this planner has Tomoe River paper, being a Japanese planner.

But no, this planner does not have TRP but has a paper which I find even better!


Iroha does not say anything about their paper on their website, they just say it is "their own paper".


Well, I would say it is very much like the Thin Paper from the Jibun Techo from Kokuyo.

It is a thin paper, likely 52gsm, it is white or slight off-white, and it has a bit of ghosting due to its thinness.


But it works sooo well with fountain pens!

There is a bit of ghosting, yes, but that`s normal with such a thin paper, but there is next to no bleeding and no feathering at all. Only the very notorious "bleeders", like J Herbin Rose Cyclamen ink or the purple one from Montblanc, The Beatles ink, these bleed a bit when you lay down a lot of ink but otherwise, no bleeding.

For me this is so important, I don`t mind ghosting as long as I can still see the print of the grid on the next pages but I can`t stand any bleeding of inks.


The paper is a very soft one, nice to write one, it makes the lines of a nib look a bit broader than on a paper like Midori for example (which I would describe as "hard" paper). It is not as glossy as TRP and inks dry much faster on this paper than on TRP.

It gives a bit of feedback while writing, any nib does not slide around on this paper as it would on TRP.

The paper gets a bit crinkly when you lay down a lot of ink on a page.


(This is all compared to the old TRP, I have not had the chance to test out the new Sanzen TRP. Might be that the new Sanzen TRP acts differently with inks).




backside of my sleep tracker + front side with a lot of ink - bleeding with only the darkest ink, Montblanc Beatles - scroll to the right to see the front side



The cover


Iroha offers covers as well, they have PVC covers and leather covers.

I had ordered a Trad cover which is PVC, it comes with two pockets (front and back), with a pen loop and a magnetic closure. It`s a soft cover, slim design and can be used, nothing fancy but ok.







As I like sturdy stiff covers I found another solution:

There is a company in Germany, Eisvogel Notes, which create covers in the style of TN covers, but made out of very sturdy cardboard in very nice colors. Very minimalistc, no pockets, no pen loops, just elastics to hold any inserts and an elastic to close the cover, just like in a Leuchturm or Moleskine notebook.

The Classic size is perfect to accomodate the Japan B6 sized planner.

I have removed all the elastics, including the closure, but you can keep them and add them later on if you like to. In the end you still see the holes of all the elastics but the eyelets are very nice to look at.


And then I have added self sticking Velcro dots at the back which hold the book in place.


Perfect addition for this planner and with the perfect thickness of the spine to accomodate this book. A Stalogy Planner in B6 fits perfectly well as well, a Japanese B6 Daily Planner from Franklin Planner does not fit, the book is a tiny bit to thick for this cover. The B6 Yearly Notebook Planner from Paper TessDesign does not fit either, it is a bit too thick.


Eisvogel ships to EU countries; I had to order directly with them as they have not set up Switzerland in their shop. I have no idea if they sell to countries outside of the EU.


They offer inserts as well if you like to use the covers in a TN style but their paper is not fountain pen friendly.


In the first picture at the very top of this blog post you can see two Eisvogel covers, one in burgundy red and the other in light blue.




Eisvogel Cover with and without elastics

last picture: self-adhesive Velco dots




How I used this planner in 2023

  • the perpetual monthly overviews

    • as a step tracker

  • monthly overviews for appointments

    • at the beginning of the year I started to use the box layout of the monthly overviews, but in July I printed out my usual vertical style of monthly overviews and pasted them over these monthly pages

  • note pages

    • 2 pages at the beginning as future log pages for 2024 and 2025

    • then my monthly trackers, sleep tracker and "when did I do what"-tracker; one month on two pages

    • then my weekly overviews, one week per page, with my Alastair list for my weekly tasks

    • and after that my daily journaling, I just write as much or as little for each day as I want to, therefore I do not need a page per day. I guess at the end of year this will take up about 200 pages.





top right: washi tape added to front cover

top middle: step tracker in perpetual yearly layout

top right: monthly overview in boxes

bottom left: montly tip-ins

bottom middle: sleep tracker and overall tracker

bottom right: weekly tasks with Alastair system


Pros and Cons


and here we are why I used this planner and why I stopped during the year. just to take it up a few months (or weeks) later


pros:

  • B6 size

  • fantastic fountain pen friendly paper

  • 365 note pages with no added information, so much space to write anything down

  • yearly and monthly overviews in addition to these 365 note pages, this gives me enough space to fit everything into one book

  • amount of boxes on these notepages perfect for any trackers

  • all-in-one; one book for everything, one book on my table


cons:

  • the 2,5mm grid

    • for writing this grid size is ok, you can use two boxes, have a 5mm grid and the lines where to write can easily be found

    • for my weekly Alastair tasks this 2.5mm grid makes it a bit harder to find the corresponding box, of days above and task to the right, sometimes I made the dot on the wrong day or on the wrong line because it was hard to see which box belongs to which day. My box of 5mm always contains a middle line and this confused me a lot

    • the same with my monthly tracker, day with corresponding task and oops, wrong daily box, this stopped me using this planner again and again

    • in December I had this planner in my hand again, I have started to draw lines with a pencil to easier find any boxes and this helped a lot... but setting up a monthly tracker was taking up a lot of extra time with this pencil lines

    • so, not quite sure about this mini grid





left: comparison Leuchtturm paper left, Sunny 2.5mm grid right

middle: monthly tracker with added pencil lines

right: monthly tracker without pencil lines


  • the monthly box layout

    • as already mentioned in other blog posts I`m not a fan of a monthly box layout, I rather have a perpetual style monthly layout

    • in about June I therefore stopped using this planner, this box layout was getting annoying.

    • in September I thought about it again and had the idea to paste print-outs on these pages, this was much better





left: monthly box style

right: tip-ins in vertical style



  • the thickness of the book (1,8 cm)

    • well, this is always the problem of wanting to have one book for all, this has to have a certain thickness and number of pages to fit one year into one book. But, writing can get a bit akward as your hand is hovering in the air when you get down to the end of a page. Yes, putting another planner underneath it or just embracing it, yes, ok, but not my favorite.

    • writing in my thin Filofax Notebook in A5 or HBxWA5 is so much more relaxing and easier



  • white paper

    • and this is what stopped me time and time again to use this planner: the white paper! I never thought that I would say this because years ago all my planners needed to have white paper, I could not stand cream paper. Cream paper, especially the cream TRP were always leaning towards yellow and I was not a fan of that. But now, I`m so used to the light cream Leuchtturm paper, which is not too yellow and not leaning into brown, that I do not like white anymore. I find writing on this cream LT paper so relaxing to the eyes, no glaring in sunlight or artificial light .... so well, no more white paper planners for me 😉



This planner is definitely a very nice one, an all-in-one planner with so many note pages. But not my first choice of 2023.

But nonetheless, I have already bought the 2024 version of this planner, a year can be very long and maybe I get the itch to use it again.


The planner of 2024 is all in all the same, no big changes.

Just the page numbers of the note pages are a bit bigger, they are easier to see know.

And I have the feeling that the print is a tiny bit darker which is not bad either.

And they have added one more note page due to the leap year in 2024, there are now 366 note pages.



Here you can find all the information about this planner online: website of Iroha

They do not ship internationally but I guess you can find them on Rakuten or Amazon Japan.

Amazon Japan is not shipping to Switzerland, I have therefore used the forwarding company of Japan Rabbit to buy this planner. Very easy to use, fast and works perfectly well every time.




I wish you a happy journey with your planner 😊



Thank you to all, stay healthy and (planner) peace to everyone!





Andrea 🖋💛💚💙






P.S. I have bought all my planners myself, I paid for them, I state my own personal opinions about them. When you click a link which I have added for you to see the items which I`m talking about I do not get paid for it.


P.S.S. my HBxWA5 with Leuchtturm paper in a cut-down Filofax Notebook is still going strong 😊 you can read about it here.











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