Prior to my previous haul of the Chuyu Culture journals, I left some questions in a Taiwanese journaling Google+ group, and someone pointed me to the Facebook page of 365days.tw, saying that their paper quality was much better. So let’s unbox this and test it out.
At the time I checked out the Facebook page, they didn’t have news of the 2016 planner (although the 2015 one was gorgeous).
I don’t know much about this company. From the Facebook description, it seems they are a company or a team of designers involved in graphic, product or web design. Each year, for the last few years, they introduce one to two cover designs for their journal which are produced for that year only.
Fast forward to late October, I finally saw their update that the 2016 planner was about to be released for pre-order, so obviously I had to jump in with mine. The order process took place via email (for overseas orders), and was quick and fuss-free. The official release date was 1 November, and shipments would start the next day. I got a notice of my shipment order on 3 November, and amazingly, the postman knocked on my door with this parcel on 6 November. Just three days!
They do put a bit of thought into their packaging. Thank goodness for paper packaging. Side rant: the one big downside of being a stationery fan is … all that plastic packaging! Pens, pencils, erasers, washi tape, cartridges, everything comes wrapped in some form of plastic packaging, and I shudder at the amount of it I throw away each time I do a stationery haul.
Anyway, rant over. The bigger package is the journal, and inside the smaller package is a roll of washi tape.
I love paper packages tied up with string, it’s one of my favourite things too 🙂 Unwrapping the package reveals a 2016 calendar.
And on to the main event! This is an A6-sized journal (pre-order price NT320), It is modeled against, but not an exact replica of, the Hobonichi. The size is 105mm x 148mm. The material is 70gsm paper. The actual measurements are 107mm x 150mm, because of the cover. Talking about the cover, aren’t these seagulls on a sky-blue background gorgeous? They released two designs this year, this is one. The other features sketches of various farm animals on a beautiful deep green back background. Looking at the pictures on their Facebook page, I am quite tempted by it too.
Moving on quickly. Here’s the washi tape (pre-order price NT70). The design of the tape is actually the design on their 2015 journal cover. It’s a very pretty sketch of fields, and when I saw the cover, I really fell in love with it. Too bad it’s the 2015 edition.
The calendar that comes with starts at December 2015 and runs through to January 2017. Only Taiwanese public holidays are listed. The corners are nicely rounded. On the back, they have included a list of A and B size measurements in millimetres. It also has a 13-centimetre long ruler printed on the right-hand edge on both sides.
Picking this calendar up, I realised it’s not just a simple reference calendar. It’s made of laminated cardstock, and it’s A6-size. It’s supposed to function as a shitajiki! Although I’m not a fan of using a shitajiki or a pencil board (it makes the surface TOO smooth, and I can’t write like that), it’s really very cool of 365days.tw to have included it.
On to the journal proper!
Some of you must be wondering why the cover (or the journal with the cover) looks so flat and unbulky. The cover is actually paper! It is slightly waxy, so you get a tiny bit of protection against water and dirt, but have to wipe it away quickly. It is just one single sheet of waxy paper (blank on the inside) glued together at strategic points to make a rather nice and pretty cover. Inside of it, the journal cover proper is just plain white card stock. In stark contrast to both of that, the endpapers are very highly glossy. It looks pretty, but is rather pointless, in my opinion, one less writing surface, unless you use thin erasable markers.
There are two very nice slanted slots on the back of the waxy cover, which serves nicely as a place for namecards and some extra peripherals.
The 2016 集日美工 365daysTW Daily Journal.
It comes with a content page spread.
A free table spread. Something rather pointless again. Someone else might find this useful, but I would much rather have more blank or grid pages.
My most favourite feature of all, regular readers know it too, the vertical month layout. Strangely, they have used icons to represent public holidays: a sun for New Year’s Day, a stocking for Christmas Day, a ghost for the Seventh Month (Hungry Ghosts Festival). These icons are used throughout the journal. Thankfully on the daily pages, the name of the holiday is indicated.
The requisite monthly pages. One thing strikes me as slightly logical, yet rather odd. You can barely see it, but on the bottom-right corner of the January spread (below), you see the February mini-month calendar. It’s the same for all pages, On February, you see March mini-month, so on and so forth. I didn’t quite get it at first. i simply couldn’t wrap my brain around this logic for a minute or so. Because, according to my logic, flipping though books or anything with pages, that lower bottom-right serves as a bit of a reference or indication of which page you are at. So logically, if I saw a big ‘2’, I would think “ah, month of February”, but it’s not, it’s the January month spread.
There is logic to it though, because while you are working or planning January, that mini-month calendar works very well as a forward planning calendar, or at least a forward planning reference.
Oh well, it just takes a bit of getting used to.
Along the top of the daily pages, the month and day are indicated in small and big numbers respectively, followed by the lunar date (yes, win!) and day of the week (in Chinese).
The daily pages are covered with 4mm grids. Along the edge, the hours are numbered 1 through 24, with 1 grid per hour. That is a bit crazy, but luckily I am not using this as a planner. Near the bottom, there’s a nice little note icon, with some lines for free note-taking.
There are page numbers at the bottom of each page, starting from Page 1 on January 1. The little triangles at the outer edge is just the month marker, but I forgot to take a picture of them from the side with the journal closed.
Weekends are exactly the same, except that the month and day are printed in Marsala (apparently), as opposed to grey colour for weekdays.
The daily pages end on December 31, and then there’s six pages of grid, squared and dotted pages, and a statistics page spread and yet another free table spread (both not pictured).
Thankfully, the only
useless “Useful Information” pages are of the Taipei and Kaohsiung metro maps, which are at least fairly useful.
As with all journals and diaries made in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the personal data page is placed right at the end. It’s quite basic, with just some blanks for your name, basic contact information and notes.
Specifications and first impressions of the 集日美工 365daysTW Daily Journal
Size: A6-size journal with monthly and daily pages.
Measurement: 105mm x 148mm x 22mm .
Paper: 70gsm paper, reportedly fountain-pen and water-colour friendly.
Binding: Stitched and glued.
Design: Accent colour is Marsala, the 2015 Pantone Colour of the Year.
It is very light, and would be very comfortable to carry around on a daily basis.
The cover is beautiful, but despite the waxiness, it is not going to take a lot of abuse, so you still need to take care of it. the latest post on the Facebook page seems to feature a clear PVC cover (in the process of being produced), but I have not checked the price.
The paper is thin, feels smooth to the touch and at first touch, I am impressed. It is a tad thicker than the usual Moleskine journal paper. I have not done a writing test yet, but tests from their own staff or other users show no bleed-through / slight show-through from fountain pens, and water-colour. Copic markers are a big no-no though.
It’s a pity there aren’t more free pages, and the print of the grid/squares of the ones that are in don’t go all the way to the edge of the paper.
I am looking forward to using this journal next year. Using the large-size Moleskine for daily journaling has been a challenge this year. I have loved it, but left too much blank space, Hopefully with the reduced space of this A6-size, and better paper quality, there’ll be more to journal about in 2016!