Many people are starting to get into (or get back into) journaling due to the pandemic. Even in the simplest and most mundane of days, writing about the good things that happened can help you feel calm and relaxed especially during these trying times. So, if you’ve been wondering about giving this hobby a try and adding even more kawaii to your daily life, take a look at this guide and see if it’s a good fit for you!
What kind of journal should I use?
As surprising as it may seem to some, journaling isn’t an expensive hobby. In fact, you can already make do with a notebook or planner that you may already have lying at home. If you do want to start fresh, however, here are some popular journal brands to check out.
Mother/EarthBound fans should already be familiar with the name Shigesato Itoi, but did you know that he also owns the widely popular lifestyle brand Hobonichi? With notebooks available in dated and day-free variants, different types and sizes, very thin yet fountain pen-friendly paper that almost never bleeds through, as well as a selection of fun and unique covers (including designs from Mother!), it’s no wonder that Hobonichi was able to achieve the level of the fame it has today.
Inspiration: Kaila Ocampo has 300+ (!) ‘journal with me’ and Hobonichi setup videos she has made over the years documenting her life in Japan, travels, and work for Rainbowholic.
Traveler’s Notebook (JP)
The Traveler’s Notebook is another popular journal option for documenting travels as well as daily moments. The journal is made to look simple so that users are free to customize the way it looks. You can insert and remove refills as you please, and the nice leather cover and rubber band make your journal much more secure. The TN is also available in passport and regular sizes.
Inspiration: Check out Lovesoup’s Traveler’s Notebook flip through videos on YouTube! Sai’s doodles occasionally pop up in journal entries alongside collages of various ephemera collected from travels.
The Lucalab 6-ring binder is another journal option that is gradually gaining popularity. The covers are made of clear PVC and are also sometimes available in glitter and hologram finishes. The best part about 6-ring binders are the refills that are available plain or in different pastel colors and designs; plus, you can easily add or take them out with just a snap of the brass rings. Take a look at Lucalab’s selection of covers and refills; they even have zipper covers if you need extra security for your journal.
Inspiration: justinebujo has tons of videos using 6-ring binders with kitschy cute Korean stickers and deco to boot.
If you find any of the above journals interesting but feel that they are over your current budget, here are some faux versions or dupes you can check out:
- BujoMarks (HK) – They have a selection of ‘fauxbonichi’ from Kinbor. While I haven’t personally purchased from this shop, I have used a Kinbor A6 journal previously and though it doesn’t have the same quality as Hobonichi’s Tomoe River paper, it was still able to hold its own.
- Cadeneta Notebooks (EU) – Their TN dupes are available in pastel, bright, and business-friendly colors, along with eco-friendly and vegan options for the covers.
- Cindy Little Space (CN) – They have 6-ring binders of different sizes and designs, including a cover with daisies and rings in candy macaron colors!
What do I journal about?
With most of us spending our time at home due to current times, the lack of inspiration might be more common than usual which is completely understandable. But don’t let this deter you from making kawaii journal spreads!
For ideas, you can take a look at Marceline’s post on guided journals if you prefer to have prompts already included on paper, or check out the kawaii journaling community’s spreads on Facebook and Instagram – their Dropbox folder also has prompts from 2018 onwards that you can use on your journals pretty much any time of the year.
You can even make spreads about lazy days, doing chores, or even working, look cute – I’ve included a couple of my recent spreads above as an example.
Are there any specific rules to follow for this hobby?
I think the best part about journaling (or in this case, kawaii journaling) is that there are no rules. How cute you want your journal to be is all up to you, whether you want it to look minimalist or cover every corner with stickers.
You can also be as laid-back as you want to be, as a lot of us tend to be too busy with real life. You don’t need to follow and keep up with it daily. Backlogs are much more common than you think, so don’t feel pressured as this hobby is supposed to help you relax and not feel the other way around! If it helps, you can write short notes about what happened each day, then do your journal spreads by the end of the week and use it as your time to unwind.
Where should I start with stationery and journaling supplies?
From pens, highlighters, sticker sheets and flakes, to washi tapes, stamps, and memo sheets, the list can go on and on! But don’t feel overwhelmed as you don’t need every single stationery item to make your journal spreads kawaii.
You can even use ‘free’ stationery! Kaila/Rainbowholic made a nice video showing how you can make your journal spread look cute using product packaging and labels. I’ve also shared a couple of food journal spreads I made a few years ago on my Instagram using packaging from a milk tea shop and McDonald’s.
Lastly, you can look through Etsy or other similar e-commerce websites for stationery shops near you so you can #ShopSmall and #SupportLocal! :D
Can anyone do kawaii journaling?
Of course! If you like keeping track of your goals, moods, and habits, bullet journaling/bujo might also be something you want to look into as this may be more in line with your style.
If you’re not familiar with bujo, check out AmandaRachLee’s videos on YouTube. Her fun personality and creative designs will inspire you to make your bullet journal more kawaii!
As mentioned previously, you can pretty much use any notebook you might already have, but some brands you can look into are LEUCHTTURM1917, Rollbahn by DELFONICS, and Moleskine. They have a nice selection of cute and colorful covers available.
And that’s about it for this guide! I hope you enjoy your journey and embrace your progress in kawaii journaling. I find that it’s always nice to look back and see how much you’ve grown when reading previous journals. Journaling has really helped add more kawaii and positivity to my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful that I started doing this hobby since 2015.
If you found this guide helpful, have any questions about the hobby, or would like to share your thoughts on kawaii journaling, feel free to leave a comment below!
Andy (AKA Arlandyia) is an English teacher currently based in Thailand with her partner and their cat, Xiao. Originally from Manila, Philippines, her love for kawaii sparked from her childhood interests: Sanrio characters, scrapbooking, stationery, and shoujo manga. In her free time, she catches up on her journaling, plays video games, reads manga, and takes a few short naps.