Naty's Eclectic Passions

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Japanese planner size comparison.

Japanese Planner Review: Nolty 2281 (B6 Ecri Memo)

The joys of an analogue life.

September – a time to reflect on how the year has elapsed and if any goals need to be brought up to speed. It is the time when I start to ponder over what planner setup I will be using in the upcoming year. Perhaps you, like me, have a habit of using a paper diary or journal to capture fleeting thoughts and ideas before they disappear into thin air. In this post, I will be doing a planner review of the Nolty 2281 in B6 size, a.k.a. Nolty Ecri Memo.

I find it innately comforting when I put pencil to paper; or nib to paper. Sure, I have a digital note collection (which I will talk about in a future post), but having a place to jot down things on the go is something I find advantageous in this digital age.

Beginning with Hobonichi

Hobonichi Japanese planner web shop page.
Hobonichi web shop page.

I started my paper planner journey with the well known Japanese brand, Hobonichi (founded in 1998), back in 2016 and have been using them yearly. This was mainly because of their use of Tomoe River paper. I have started using fountain pens back then and I needed good quality paper that can take ink well. Having used both the A6 Techo (English version) and the Weeks (and Weeks Mega) over the years. I appreciate the build quality, fun designs and find a lot of pleasure in using them. The paper is the best attribute of these planners and every year there are new releases of covers that gather a lot of attention by those who love to collect and decorate their planners.

Screenshot of Nolty Japanese web shop page.
Nolty web shop page.

Nolty planners—layout paradise

But in 2022, I jumped ship and tried the Nolty Listy 1 (model number 6501). I did not find any covers or colours appealing on Hobonichi that year and I was interested in trying new layouts.

Nolty is another famous Japanese planner / diary brand established in 1949. They have a myriad of sizes and layout options compared to Hobonichi. It is not widely available outside Japan (from what I could tell) and they do not have an English site. But the Japanese site is pretty self explanatory and all the Nolty planners are available for purchase on They ship to most places with a reasonable shipping fee. In terms of the paper used, they have their own proprietary paper which is thicker than Tomoe River but still smooth in texture. It takes fountain pen inks well with no feathering or bleeding – which is an absolute prerequisite for me.

Japanese planner size comparison
Nolty 6501, 2281 and Hobonichi Weeks

Vertical week layouts

The Listy 1 has a vertical weekly timeline like the Hobonichi Cousin A5. Many people who wants a smaller Cousin will find this a great alternative (A5 Slim, 219×123 mm). Unfortunately, the vertical layout has not been working out for me. It is hard to squeeze details into the thin columns and I do not enjoy running out of space as my writing is not particularly small.

Nolty 2281 and Nolty Listy 1 (Nolty 6501) layout comparision.
Vertical week timeline layout vs the more flexible weekly semi-vertical with memo space below.

I was considering returning to the Hobonichi Weeks for 2023, but sadly, there was no design that piqued my interest. After hunting around, I decided to try the Nolty B6 Ecri Memo Weekly (model number 2281). There is a navy cover (the one I got) and a beige/brown cover called 2282.

Comparing the size between Nolty 2281 and Nolty Listy 1 (Nolty 6501)
Size difference between Nolty Listy 1 (6501) vs Nolty 2281.

The planner of choice for 2023—Nolty 2281

The 2281 is marginally wider than the 6501 but shorter than the Hobonichi Weeks (188×133 mm). The shipping speed was phenomenal as it only took 1.5 days to arrive Hong Kong from Tokyo! I have since done basic washi decorating and protected the thread bookmarks (I recommend Thread Heaven).I also like to white-out uncecessary info, e.g. kanji holidays and labels, that are irrelevant to me.

Page layout (1) of the Nolty 2281. Annual calendars 2022, 23, 24. 365 year view. Monthly year view. Checkbox list for the year.
Page layout (2) of the Nolty 2281. Monthly calendar view with days on the left. Weekly view with blank memo space below. Blank grid pages after the weeklies. End paper with personal info area. Pen loop included in the basic plastic cover.

I bought a zip-around mesh case to go with the 2281 as I do not have any B6 accessories that would fit it. It includes a small grid booklet with a log style layout with 15 sheets (30 pages).

Nolty B6 zip cover (No. NTBCV2112) in beige. There is a black and burgundy version as well.

The 2281 comes with a small additional notebook at the back for extra grid paper (23 sheets with 3.5mm grid) if the 18 sheets (36 pages) included in the planner is not enough. None of these blank pages are numbered.

Additional notebooks in B6 size.
Additional grid paper booklets, left one is included with the 2281, while the right one is included with the case.

Planner setup sorted… for now

I am looking forward to using this as my catch-all journal next year. The flexible memo space on the weekly pages is inviting for my random brain dumps compared to the more structured timeline layout of the 6501. I might still get a Hobonichi Weeks for logging my coffee journey (I am more than halfway through the Hobonichi A6 Day-Free).

Being able to feel at ease and happy with a planner setup could be a long road for some. I have watched many planner review videos and seeing how people use their planners give me inspiration to use mine to the maximum potential. Because I tend to use my planners as a log instead of future planning (for which I use an electronic calendar instead), it gives me a sense of flexibility to express myself and not being too structured (hence the large memo space on the weekly pages in the Nolty 2281).

Hope my review can help you decide on your planner setup, knowing more about Nolty in general and where to buy Nolty planners! What are your favourite layouts or use cases for paper planners? Happy to answer any questions if you have any. I think Nolty is definitely worth considering for planner addicts or fountain pen fiends alike.


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