If not for her journal, Li Xiaohan would not know what a fulfilling year she has just had.
"I exercised 227 times, saw 64 movies, wrote 63 diary entries and read 57 books last year," she said while browsing her decorated notebook. "The numbers mean nothing, but my journal helps me recall my feelings while doing these things. It helps me learn more about myself," she said.
Li, 23, lives in Beijing and has been using journals for more than two years. Every day she makes notes on her life and elaborately decorates the notebook, no matter how busy she is.
"By writing, drawing, and recording every day, I can set a clearer goal for my life," Li said.
A popular trend around the world, journals have attracted new users among young Chinese over the past decade. Unlike a traditional formatted diary, a journal is a usually a blank notebook where users keep brief records of their daily life - their to-do lists, long-term plans, or travel notes during a memorable journey.
In addition to handwritten notes, journalers often put energy into expressing their creativity on the page. They decorate with stickers, whimsical drawings, and washi tape, decorative colored tape that takes its name from a type of Japanese paper, creating a journal that expresses their individuality.
Zhou Li, a high school teacher in Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang Province, spends thousands of yuan on stationary every year. She has even attended a journaling training session and flies to Japan to buy specific washi tape. In the course, Zhou learned how to select a good notebook and pens, as well as how to create useful layouts and make simple and clear notes.
Zhou now owns thousands of rolls of tape and several hundred planners, more than enough to last her a lifetime, but her collection continues to expand day by day.
It is not only girls who are obsessed with journals. Gao Shan, a young advertising student at Minzu University of China, is also addicted to his journal.
The little notebook is like a small storage device, housing his flashes of genius and quirky ideas.
On Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like microblogging site, the journal hashtag has drawn over 130,000 followers. On other social media websites like douban.com and duitang.com, journal-related groups are also very active.
Yu Jisheng, a Hainan resident, was early to realize the market potential for journals in China.
By buying tape and pens from Japan and reselling them on Taobao, Yu and many of his fellow sellers have made sizeable profits.
An imported notebook can sell at 200 to 300 yuan (31 to 47 U.S. dollars) on Taobao, and one store can easily sell 100 notebooks a month. Some limited editions sell for thousands of yuan.
"Journal-related stationary is expensive," said Shi Hongjun from Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. "Ordinary tape is usually just one yuan, but washi tape for journals costs at least 12 yuan. I spend thousands of yuan on journal-related supplies every year," she said.
"The prevalence of journals shows the young generation in China have a rich spiritual world and strong aesthetic tastes," said Zhao Huiying, associate professor at Liaoning Normal University.
"Journal addicts have their own communities to share information, which have naturally become a marketing platform to drive up the consumption of journal-related products among youth," said Zhao.