Yamamoto Ro-Biki Notebook Review
I was curious about this notebook for two reasons. I've been attempting to do the whole bullet journal thing again and I wanted something with a thin width for that; and I wanted to see if this notebook was actually both made with recycled paper and fountain pen friendly. One of the biggest giveaways that a notebook will be trash to use with a fountain pen is if it's made with recycled paper. This is typically a bigger death sentence than it being made in China or the US. So, I wanted to try it out at some point. I went with one of their plainer covers.
The notebook is about the same height as a TN insert, but it's not as wide. A very unusual size, but I like it. My pocket planner I got from a store that sells a bunch of Japanese and Korean stationery is roughly half the size of this, but the same width. From the pictures on JetPens site, I thought the reticle pattern might stand out too much, but it really doesn't. It's enough that you can see it's there, but any ink will stand out more. The quality of the cover and paper is very nice. But the real test is, can it handle a broad nib? Yes, yes, it can. Quite well actually. I was nervous putting down those first letters that I'd see a bunch of feathering right away. No feathering whatsoever. Now, there are some drawbacks to this notebook. There is some degree of show through on the back of pages and you pretty much can't see much of any sheening on this paper. But ink also dries really quickly. If you have problems with smearing ink a lot, you could combine this with a dry ink to avoid that. Here's some examples of how ink looks on the pages. I used Gravity Wave, a very wet ink, and Yama-Budo, which is usually a very fast drying ink on most paper. Gravity Wave took slightly longer to dry than Yama-Budo, but only just barely. For comparison, if I were using UStyle, Mead, Apica, or Tomoe River, Clairefontaine, or Rhodia, the difference in drying time between those would have been much greater. It's barely noticeable with this notebook. But again, this quite drying time seems to come at the cost of the pretty sheening of these inks. The paper isn't glossy and ultra smooth, which is something I hate in a lot of "higher end" notebooks. It has a nice texture to it that gives some resistance when writing.
I would recommend this notebook and am happy to have finally found a notebook made with recycled paper that actually works with a fountain pen. As far as recycled paper goes, it's also pretty obviously better made than the bulk of what I've tried. The Ro-Biki line comes in a few page types: reticle, reticle square, grid, lined, and blank. The blank notebooks, as far as I've seen, are the only ones that you can get with different covers. The rest all have a design similar to this one. There is also a half size version of this that can be used as a pocket notebook. The size of both the full and half-size, and inks drying very quickly on the paper, make them more ideal for carrying with you and jotting down notes and such. Obviously, this is not a notebook for wet conditions, but it should be good for most situations. For now, I'm using it as my attempt 3 at doing a bullet journal. That will get its own post when I've finished that little experiment at the end of the month. You can get this notebook at Jetpens, Yamamoto's Etsy shop, and other Etsy shops at times. It's not as widely available as a lot of other popular notebook choices out there, and I haven't seen many reviews for it either. This notebook will be added to my Broad Nib Friendly Brands page. Edit: I did finally find an ink that with feather pretty badly on this. Organics Studio's Nitrogen Royal Blue. What a monster that ink is. Heavy feathering and bleed through on the back with this ink, and only this ink so far. Tried this in a broad nib, so fair warning you can get some nasty feathering on this paper with a super thick ink, but even a lot of nicer paper can't always hold up to specific inks. This hasn't changed my opinion of the notebook and I still heavy recommend it. If anything I don't recommend OS Nitrogen Royal Blue. See my pen+inks tried page for details.