Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s Notebook Review

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Do pens, notebooks or other accessories help inspire you to regularly write in your journal or diary? Or are you like me, do you have a stack of blank Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks on your desk that mock you when you look at them? I seem to start and stop the habit of writing. I definitely want to do it, I just can’t seem to keep going once I start. That doesn’t stop me from buying cool pens and notebooks though. I’ve had my eye on the Midori TRAVELER’s notebook ever since seeing them in Patrick NG’s photo stream on Flickr. So I finally bought one from Maido and here are my thoughts about it.

Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.

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I’m a sucker for cool notebooks in the first place, so when you pair one with a leather cover, all restraint goes out the window. The Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s notebook is mainly sold in Japan, but is hand made in Thailand. The cover is very basic in construction and appearance as you can see above. There are no logos or other branding on the front. A simple brown elastic band holds the notebook closed.

Note: Other than the lighter camel color, I’m not sure how this 5th anniversary edition differs from the other TRAVELER notebooks that are available in darker Brown and Black.

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On the back is a simple stamp in the bottom left corner.

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Here you can see how the TRAVELER’s notebook compares to a large Moleksine (left) and a small Moleskine (right). The TRAVELER is approximately 4.75 x 8.75 inches.

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When you open the cover, you notice the rough leather interior, which gives the notebook its rustic charm. Included with the cover is one notebook.

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The notebook is held in place with an elastic band that is attached to the spine of the cover.

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A tin clasp holds the elastic band in place.

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The included notebook is made of Japanese paper, which has 64 off white pages that are about the same thickness as regular typing paper or Moleskine notebook pages.  A thin thread bookmark is attached to the notebook.

I think the attraction of the Midori TRAVELER is the romantic look of it. It reminds you of something Indiana Jones might carry with him on his adventures. The more you use it, scratch it, scuff it (and you will very quickly…), the better it will look. Battle worn and all that… The other attraction is that you can embellish and customize it with some optional accessories.

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You can purchase a set of colored elastic bands (your notebook comes with 1 extra Green band) and an extra tin clasp to give the notebook a bit more personality. The elastic bands that come with this kit are long enough to makes several cover bands and / or spine bands to hold the notebook in place.

You can also purchase additional notebooks that are lined, have grids, have thicker paper for drawing, calendars etc. Other customization options include pen holders, stickers, ink stamps, stick on pockets, charms and a kit with beads to decorate the elastic band and bookmark.

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I switched out the Brown band with a Red one and I added a geared pewter charm from a necklace that Oberon had sent me. It looks cool right? But is a simple leather cover with a 65 page notebook worth almost $60 and has it inspired me to write journal entries more often? Nope and nope.

I know I could easily make my own TRAVELER’s notebook by ordering a piece of leather from Tandy Leather. All I would need to do is cut a square piece of leather and punch a couple of holes in it for the elastic bands that I can find at any fabric store like Joann’s. For the notebook, I could take a stack of regular typing paper, cut it down a bit, fold it in half, staple the center and there you go… I bet I could make one that looks the same (minus the stamp on the back) for about $20 give or take. Maybe a lot less.

Do I have buyer’s remorse that I ordered the Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s Notebook? Yes I do… I know it’s probably just going to sit there in the stack with my other untouched Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks. That said, there’s nothing actually wrong with this product. It’s not constructed badly and would make a perfectly fine notebook for anyone that wants to buy one. It’s just not worth that much in my opinion…

I think I’ve finally figured out why I can’t keep a journal for any length of time… It’s the fact that I can type 100x faster than I can write. When I do write, I tend to do so sloppily and since I am a bit of a perfectionist, it bugs me when I accidentally misspell a word and have to cross it out or write over it. Or if I do a drawing and make a mistake, that bugs me too. Everything is so permanent when you’re working with paper. That’s why I’m on a quest to find a journal / diary program for the iPhone or more likely the iPad. I plan to do an article about that quest soon. 🙂 In the mean time, what inspires you to keep up with your journal?

Update 3/8/23


This notebook cover is still going strong over 11 years after I posted this review! Yes, it has scuffs and a botched attempt at “tattooing” it with a laser engraver (upper left corner), but I still love it! That’s what’s great about the Travelers Notebook system. It is designed to collect battle scars that give it character and embed memories right into the leather.


Product Information

  • Several accessory and customization options available
  • Can refill with new notebooks
  • Too expensive for a simple leather cover

26 thoughts on “Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s Notebook Review”

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  2. I agree and have my own piles of beautiful notebooks that are never used. Besides, I’m on some medication that makes for some truly bad cursive writing. What I do do, however, sparked by your comment about a tablet app which would be a good thing, is use old-fashioned MSWord. I create one document a week, which I pin to most visited (in Chrome) and I’m one click away from my journal. I date each day within the week, and start a new one each week. I have 2 years worth very carefully backed up.

    1. @Bob Y I’m jealous that you have 2yrs worth of writings… I want to kick myself for nothing chronicling my adventure with the big C this year. I should have been writing about it this whole time. As soon as I figure out what my method is going to be, I’m going to do that though. I have some unusual requirements for my perfect journal app. It’s going to be hard to probably find everything I want.

  3. I backed a project on Kickstarter called “Tapose” which is an app for iPad that mimics the interface on the fabled MS “Courrier” digital notebook device!

    1. @Anson Once I googled it, I remembered… so I guess my cred is safe 😉 Taposé does look interesting! It appears that it’s not quite ready yet though.

  4. My cure to journal-block is getting yourself a nice fountain pen (like a Lamy 2000 or a Pilot Vanishing Point) and some Clairefontaine paper. Writing with a quality fountain pen on luxurious 90g paper seems to make my words hold more meaning when I journal. Plus, Clairefontaine gives you quite a bit of paper for the money compared to this craft journal.
    buying websites: gouletpens.com

  5. I’ve been a fan of your site since the early Palm Pilot days and never knew you were a big notebook collector too!
    “Everything is so permanent when you’re working with paper.”– that is my reason for using paper notebooks for some things and an iPhone/PDA/laptop for others. Sometimes it’s good to keep all the mistakes in, and have physical pages you can flip through to remember things.
    Maybe you are pressuring yourself too much to make your journal “important.” Try using it for mundane things like to-do lists, recording your diet and exercise, pasting in clippings from magazines or whatever, and just let it get messy– then maybe you’ll be more in the habit of turning to it to write down longer journal entries. And have you heard of Keri Smith’s books, such as “Wreck This Journal?” I haven’t used them but a lot of people say they are great creativity prompters.

    1. @Notebook Funny, I read your site too! 😉 Your suggestions have merit. But, I tend to want to use a journal for just diary type entries. Memories for another day. I don’t want to clutter them with mundane things like to-do lists. Maybe that’s where I’m failing… Or, I could start keeping a notebook just for mundane things and continue with my quest for the perfect journal (which I’m leaning more and more towards being electronic).

  6. I do love the look of the notebook, especially the Indiana Jones aspect of it :o) but I agree $60 sounds excessive.
    Don’t give up on finding something to write in your notebooks, I love looking back at what I have written in some of mine… or should that be that I like to laugh at some of the more obscure stuff I have written!

  7. Indeed, the Midori notebook incites lust. But it is rather expensive for a notebook. I love the idea of writing in a notebook to collect personal thoughts, though my Blackberry is too convenient to resist (for making short notes)! My Moleskin journal has been lingering around for the last few years, sadly with not much written in it since 2010. I just can’t seem to find the time to write in it + I recently started a blog and would like to try it out to see how this goes.

  8. I just found your review while searching for this 5th edition notebook. It seems I come to the game late and they’re pretty much sold out. Nice review. If your Traveler needs a home I’d be happy to provide one ;0)

  9. I agree with a lot of your comments. The whole system seems a bit fiddley to me. Having said that, I’ll ditto Robyn’s comment above and offer to reduce your stack of notebooks and journals by one. I was going to buy the brown one but like the camel even better.

  10. If your 5th anniversary travelers is just sitting and not being used I would LOVE to buy it from you lol!! I am on a hunt for one….

  11. great post, thanks for the info!!
    I’m a perfectionist as well so I can relate to the same issues of writing something on paper with ink….therefore I can recommend you to use the Lamy pens, they have special ink cartridges which can be completely erased in the case of a spelling mistake and such by using their special marker, it totally does the trick!
    you should try it!

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