By Zoe Kirkland
Hi! I’m Zoe and welcome to Forward All Inquiries, the column where we use anecdotal advice to guide you through many of the dilemmas we face in Aomorian life. I’ll be your special guest host for this month, while Jackson puts the finishing touches on his time-travel machine, probably.
Let’s get straight to it!
Dear Forward All Inquiries,
Every month I look at GMA’s Events column, and there are so many really interesting-sounding events that I want to check out. But, in the end I never end up going, and always regret it afterwards. What can I do to make myself actually go to events while I’m still in Aomori?
– Harold the Hermit
Hi Harold! I also love lazy days in my apartment, so I totally feel you on this one.
I may be biased, but the summer events in Aomori are so worth leaving your house for. Unfortunately you usually don’t know that for sure until you’re actually there. Before coming to Aomori, I lived in a really beachy part of Australia. I’ve never been to California, but I think of the town I grew up in as something like Australia’s equivalent to California. I lived a few minutes’ walk from the beach. I loved being at the beach once I was there, but hated the actual going part. I’m sure you have your own equivalent of this.
I guess I was lucky in that analogy, because the beach was there every single day of the year. Winter in my hometown is basically summer, so rainy days were the only days that the beach wasn’t really an option.
Summer festivals, however, are not there every day. An average major festival lasts about a week, and smaller local festivals will typically hang around for one to three days each year. If you miss out this year, you’ve got a whole year to wait until your next chance. But, no pressure.
Let’s get into some tactics.
Before I joined GMA, I would read the Events column religiously the day it was published. I’d scan through all the events listings, excitedly following the links for things that interested me. For my first few months on JET, this was all I’d do on that first read, and then I’d promptly forget about things. A few months in, I bought a diary/organiser/whatever you want to call it.
I started making memos to myself on that initial read through of GMA, pencilling in the events I was interested in for the dates I could possibly attend them. I didn’t commit to anything at that point, just made sure to remind myself that they were options. Every time I opened my diary to look at my lessons for the week, or to try to make social plans, I would see all the event reminders I had made for myself. You could as easily do this with your phone, or a desk calendar, or a thousand sticky notes ready to stick in your genkan, whatever. I have my routine, you can work this into yours.
Sure, this tactic by itself won’t get your butt out of bed and get you at that festival or parade you were excited to attend. But if you forget the dates and details of events you’re interested in, do you really have a chance of making it to them?
The next and probably most obvious of my suggestions for today is to make plans with other people. Luckily for you, there are plenty of events and meetups organized by your fellow JETs around this time of year, courtesy of your RRs and AJET. Even with these meetups in place, it can be really tough to motivate yourself to go to these things when you don’t really know anyone else who’s attending. I know! I feel that way too! If you can find just one friend (or potential new friend) to go with you, getting up and doing the thing can feel infinitely less daunting.
The same goes for events without actual meetups. My social anxiety tells me that everything about going to an event solo is terrifying. Finding a parking space, talking to the food vendors to buy delicious fatty festival foods, being stared at for simply existing as a blonde foreigner. I was not designed for any of that. But, put me with a friend or literally any other person I can talk with, and suddenly those things become a bit more okay.
Maybe you couldn’t convince any of your friends to go to this thing you’re interested in. How about posting on the Aomori JETs Facebook page, or sending a message to your area’s LINE group (if you have one). Both of those are great ways to meet new people who you are guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with: a festival that you’re both really enthusiastic about attending.
Maybe you hate everyone around you and this was the worst advice possible for you, in which case I’m sorry. I don’t exactly understand your feelings, but they’re still valid. You’re probably on your own when it comes to motivating yourself to leave the house. I hope you’re able to gain something from my other suggestions in this article.
Not all events are created equal, and although many festivals feature all-day programs, not all of them require a whole day of your time. A common dilemma I’ve faced (especially in the busy months) is that there are multiple things happening on the same day, and I feel pressured to choose which one to attend, and which to sacrifice. Instead of doing this, look at their scheduled events (if they have specific events, there will usually be a time schedule available in advance) and decide which parts of the day you’re really interested in seeing.
If a festival doesn’t have set events, that makes it even easier – go there at a time that doesn’t clash with what you’re into at the other festival. When in doubt, start with the festival you have higher hopes for, and if you’re absolutely loving it, maybe re-evaluate whether or not to go to that other one.
As a final comment, I want to remind you of how important it can be to not overwork yourself. Aomori’s events are undeniably great, and if you have the emotional energy to spend all your waking downtime attending this-or-that, then that’s wonderful. However, there is nothing wrong with needing quiet time to yourself, even if it means missing out on a couple things.
If you’ve been spending all your downtime quietly alone lately, maybe it’s better to gradually ease yourself into the habit of going out and being around the festival crowds. Find the balance that works for you, between events that match your interests, events that will become the stories you tell to people back home, and relaxing time, so you don’t start to hate doing things.
I hope you’ve gotten some event-hype and energy from my advice. Let’s look forward to the return of the Jackson in the August issue!
This month’s question was brought to you by GMA’s own Events column! Are you interested in getting to experience more of Aomori? Check out Events each month for our pick of some of the great events happening across the prefecture. Have some secret tips about the hottest events happening in your neighbourhood? Get in touch with us and receive our eternal adoration.