Kokuyo Sokuryo-Yacho: The original Japanese field notebook

(Original Mai-bun.com article. Written by Takuya Takahashi. Translated by Bruce Eimon.)

Did you know Japan has its very own field notebook? As its name implies, Sokuryo (survey) Yacho (field notebook), was originally designed for civil engineers to record measurements in the field.

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Originally released by Kokuyo in 1959, it is a long-seller that is about to celebrate its 60th birthday. While it has been a long-time stalwart at construction sites, it is steadily gaining popularity with the general public for its handy size and sturdy build-quality. Its die-hard fans have even come up with a term for themselves - “Yacho-lers.”

What I want to highlight here is how this is an excellent notebook even for an office environment. I have a job at a large corporation (known in Japan as a “salary-man”), as far as can be from a construction site, but I still find it to be an excellent carry-everywhere notebook for my work. Let’s start by taking a look at the specs of the Sokuryo-Yacho.

This is a slim size that fits nicely in a jacket pocket. Its dimensions are 165mm (6.6”) x 95mm (3.8”) x 6mm (0.24”), which is roughly the width of American Field Notes, but about an inch taller.

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It fits easily in a suit pocket, and won’t add any bulk when carried with your planner or other notebooks. I particularly like how thin it is.

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The cover is thick cardboard imprinted with a cloth-like texture. It has a sturdy no-frills aesthetic.

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The hard cover is sturdy enough to give you plenty of stability to write while standing.

The paper is high quality fine paper that handles fountain pens with ease. The paper is easy to turn and has a nice smooth surface. I feel 40 sheets (80 pages) is just the right amount, neither too thick nor too thin.

Three different layouts are provided for three different surveying use cases: Level, Transit, and Sketch Book.

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The most popular layout for the general public seems to be the “SKETCH BOOK”, which offers a 3mm grid. The simplicity of the design offers great freedom and versatility. Let me show some of the ways I like to use them.

Since this easily fits in my jacket pocket and is thin enough to be carried with other notebooks, it is great as a dedicated To-do list notebook that can be carried everywhere.

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It can even be used as a highly portable bullet journal.

I also like to carry one around as a notebook to collect ideas I have when I’m out and about. Such moments of brilliance can easily get lost if buried in my regular notebooks, so I like having a dedicated notebook for this.

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You can even slip it into the cover of your planner.

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Given its size and versatility on the go, this is a great notebook to capture small snippets of information and even advice you get from your boss and colleagues. As you burn through them with nuggets of wisdom, I recommend you number them sequentially before your archive them. Looking back, they will serve as a visual reminder of how much experience you have gained over the years, boosting your confidence at work.

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This is a simple, yet versatile, all-around notebook. I can guarantee that it will come in handy at the workplace.

Recommended for:

  • People who need to take a lot of notes at work.
  • People who tend to lose their T0-do lists.
  • People who need to better organize their random ideas scattered in several notebooks.
  • Young people who have a lot they need to learn at their new jobs.

Information: Sokuryo-Yacho, Kokuyo

(This article was originally written for GetNavi.jp and modified for republishing.)

Posted on May 21, 2018 and filed under Kokuyo, Notebook Reviews, Mai-Bun.