The International Living Podcast

Episode 50: Affordable Real Estate and Hot Spring Baths in Rural Japan

November 08, 2023 International Living
Episode 50: Affordable Real Estate and Hot Spring Baths in Rural Japan
The International Living Podcast
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The International Living Podcast
Episode 50: Affordable Real Estate and Hot Spring Baths in Rural Japan
Nov 08, 2023
International Living

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This week, podcast host Jim Santos meets Greg Goodmacher, an expat who began his live-overseas adventure over 30 years ago.

Originally from New York and later, San Francisco, Greg caught the expat bug straight out of college, when teaching English, and a stint in the Peace Corps, brought him into contact with the many exotic attractions of Southeast Asia. Korea and Thailand appealed to him to different degrees, and a sojourn working in Abu Dhabi added a little variety to his experiences, but it was eventually Japan which captured his heart.

Learning the local festival calendar, discovering the mountain terrain, and discovering a passion for winter sports kept Greg busy in the early years of his time in Japan. Meeting the woman who would become his wife also helped establish Japan as an essential part of his life. Add to that a deep love of the local cuisine, and an enthusiasm for onsens—the hot bath ritual—and it became clear that for Greg, Japan is where his heart lies.

On the cusp of a move to a new region of Japan—one where he has easy access to winter sports, beaches, and natural hot springs, Greg shares a wealth of detail about living in Japan—from friendly neighbors who will look after your pets while you’re away, to explaining just why the real estate in Japan is so affordable.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform: https://lovethepodcast.com/internationalliving.

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Send us a Text Message.

This week, podcast host Jim Santos meets Greg Goodmacher, an expat who began his live-overseas adventure over 30 years ago.

Originally from New York and later, San Francisco, Greg caught the expat bug straight out of college, when teaching English, and a stint in the Peace Corps, brought him into contact with the many exotic attractions of Southeast Asia. Korea and Thailand appealed to him to different degrees, and a sojourn working in Abu Dhabi added a little variety to his experiences, but it was eventually Japan which captured his heart.

Learning the local festival calendar, discovering the mountain terrain, and discovering a passion for winter sports kept Greg busy in the early years of his time in Japan. Meeting the woman who would become his wife also helped establish Japan as an essential part of his life. Add to that a deep love of the local cuisine, and an enthusiasm for onsens—the hot bath ritual—and it became clear that for Greg, Japan is where his heart lies.

On the cusp of a move to a new region of Japan—one where he has easy access to winter sports, beaches, and natural hot springs, Greg shares a wealth of detail about living in Japan—from friendly neighbors who will look after your pets while you’re away, to explaining just why the real estate in Japan is so affordable.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform: https://lovethepodcast.com/internationalliving.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Jim Santos 00:11 
Hello, everyone. I'm Jim Santos, and this is the International Living Podcast. In this podcast series, we introduce you to a bigger world full of communities that are safe, welcoming, beautiful, and sometimes undiscovered. A better world, too. A friendly, warm, great value world where you can live richer, travel more, invest for profit, and enjoy a better life. So let's get started.

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the International Living Podcast. Today we'll be looking at a country that generally doesn't get a lot of attention from potential expats, the island nation of Japan. Which is pretty interesting because a quick check on the Internet shows that in 2022, Japan reported having over 3 million foreign nationals living there, over 2% of their population. 

Our guest today, Greg Goodmacher, is one of them. He and his wife have been living and working in Japan for quite a while now. He's the author of ‘Roasted Barnacles and Healing Baths in Rural Niigata, Japan’, an article that you can find in the September 2023 issue of International Living magazine, and he joins us here today. Greg. Welcome to the International Living Podcast.

Greg Goodmacher 01:27 
Oh, thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here.

Jim Santos 01:30
This is one of the biggest time differences that we've had, I think. Coming up, I'm talking to someone in Australia, too. It might be a bit longer, but I do appreciate you staying up late to talk with us today.

Greg Goodmacher 01:41 
No problem. It's not that late, and I'm a little bit of a nightbird.

Jim Santos 01:46 
So, Greg, how about a little background on yourself? Where are you from and how did you end up in Japan?

Greg Goodmacher 01:52 
Okay, I was born in New York, but I grew up in San Francisco. And my master's was in teaching language. Sorry, teaching English as a second or foreign language. While I was working on that, I went to Thailand and I worked in the United States Peace Corps as a volunteer in a remote village of Thailand and then went back to US and finished my master's degree program. From there I went to Korea.

I wasn't very crazy about South Korea. The particular job I had was not so good. So I sent up my resumes around the world, and most of my really positive responses were from Japan, and I decided to have some of the interviews. I did well, was offered a couple of positions, and I stayed with the intention of only being about two years and then going somewhere else. But like many of the expats here, I ended up staying much longer.

Jim Santos 02:59 
When did you first come to Japan?

03:01 Greg Goodmacher
Well, that was 1993.

Jim Santos 03:04
And you've been there since?

03:10 Greg Goodmacher
Yes, except for a short time when I lived and taught in Abu Dhabi, so almost 30 years. 

Jim Santos 03.13 
I think that's a record for living overseas for people we've talked to on the show. Now, the article that you wrote that we were talking about here in International Living is about Niigata, Japan. I understand since then you've moved on to another location in Japan, but you brought up a lot of interesting things in that article. If you don't mind, I'd like to talk a little bit about that first.

Greg Goodmacher 03:36
Oh, certainly. No problem. I am very excited about Niigata. It was a really good place to be for twelve and a half years.

Jim Santos 03:43 
I looked up Niigata. It's a fairly large city, about 800,000 people. But from the tone of your article, it sounded like you were maybe in a more suburban area.

Greg Goodmacher 03:52 
Oh, yeah, I was in a little area which was incorporated into Niigata City. So Niigata City has grown over the years. It was originally a smaller city, and then many little cities sort of joined it. And so the area that I was in is a place called Toyosaka. Toyasaka joined Niigata not too many years ago, and it's a little bit of a suburb. My house was maybe 20 minutes by bicycle from the ocean, about 25 minutes by train from downtown Niigata City, and about a 20 minutes’ drive into the high mountains. It's a very good location.

Jim Santos 04:40 
Yeah, it sounds like it. How did you end up there? Is that just where your first assignment was?

Greg Goodmacher 04:45 
No, actually I lived in five different locations now. Six of Japan. I was just sort of moving up, getting a better job. And I also previous to Niigata, I lived in Oita, which is also a wonderful place, but I do love winter, winter sports, and Oita does not get very cold. There's no snow, no ski resorts. So I searched for a position that would be meaningful and allow me to enjoy winter sports. And that's how I ended up in Niigata.

Jim Santos 05:23
It sounds like a really charming area. You talk about festivals there and the community really gathering together and helping each other, passing out produce from their own gardens. Has it always been like that for you? Were you accepted right away as a foreign national?

Greg Goodmacher 05:41 
I found in every place that I've been in Japan, I found pretty quickly. I made friends. A lot of people would help me, help me get settled. It is a very nice place.

Jim Santos 05:54
I imagine for most expats or people thinking about even just travel in general, the biggest difficulty they might imagine would be with the language. More than 30 years there. I assume you've picked up a little bit of Japanese.

Greg Goodmacher 06:08 
Yeah, I'd say I'm intermediate level. I wish I were higher, but a lot of my job has been speaking English, teaching English, writing in English. So there are days actually, unfortunately, when I haven't used my Japanese, but I'd say I'm intermediate level.

Jim Santos 06:26
I think where expats have the most problems abroad are in grocery stores. How's your shopping? Japanese?

Greg Goodmacher 06:36 
It's not necessary to speak Japanese when shopping. I mean, everything is in front of you. There's not much bargaining, prices are listed, and yeah, you don't really need to use Japanese unless you're specifically looking for something and you can't find it. But even then there's so many people who've studied English that even if they can't speak English well, they will often recognize and understand a word that you say.

Jim Santos 07:10
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 07:11 
For example, say, let's just say I want scallops. And I don't know the word for scallops, but somebody's probably going to find scallops, understand that, and they will take by the hand almost and show me that's so many times I've had people lead me directly to where I want to go or what I need, even if those people have to go out of their way.

Jim Santos 07:38
Yeah.

Greg Goodmacher 07:38 
I think it's surprising to a lot of Americans how friendly people are in other countries. Always assume they're going to be treated badly or poorly, but that really hasn't been our experience anywhere we've traveled.

Jim Santos 07:51
Yeah, I've been treated very well in most places I've been. You mentioned a concept in your article there. See if I'm pronouncing it right. Ikigi, ikigai, ikigai, ikigai. How would you describe the ikigai?

Greg Goodmacher 08:08 
It's sort of like someone's purpose in life, their main joy. I think there's a big difference between Americans and Japanese, and one difference is that Japanese tend to have now this is a generality have one really deep… they get really deep into a hobby and they focus very deeply on it. And whereas lots of Americans will have many hobbies, I may have so many hobbies, I'm not really good at any of them. Right, but the Japanese tend to get into deeply into one thing and they master it and it's become sort of a reason to get up in the morning.

Jim Santos 09:03
And what did you find as yours?

Greg Goodmacher 09:07 
Um well, I'd say I really like writing, it's writing about Japan, and actually I have a couple in a way.
One is writing about Japan and hot springs and trying to bring people, my students into caring, try to touch them. In terms of nature and environmental protection.

Jim Santos 09:38
Yeah, I saw. It's kind of interesting that you did some volunteer work with bears.

Greg Goodmacher 09:43 
That was one of the greatest volunteer experiences of my life. There's an area called Karuizawa. It's famous in Japan. John Lennon used to stay there when he was alive and visiting Japan. It's an area, it's really countryside, but it's a little bit affluent. So you have a lot of rich people from various parts of Japan having their second homes. 

There’s beautiful waterfalls, still some natural mountains in addition to monoforests, and the bears are still fairly plentiful there. And there's one organization, the Picchio Organization, that works to try and protect animals and introduce ecotourism as a way to save them. And they have a bear conservation team which works to reduce bear and human interactions, teach people what to do so they're not going to be attacked by a bear or get scared by the bear, and then which often leads to the death of a bear.

Jim Santos 11:03
These are black bears, correct?

Greg Goodmacher 11:05
Yes.

Jim Santos 11:06
Do you know if they're similar to the black bears in the US?

Greg Goodmacher 11:09 
Actually, the Japanese bears on the main island, Honshu, which is what I'm talking about, are pretty small. They might get up to maybe 200, 250 pounds, perhaps, at the most. But they're still very strong, of course.

Jim Santos 11:28
Yeah, I was going to say. That's still a good size animal to come charging out of the bush at you.

Greg Goodmacher 11:32 
Yes. And the bears have a lot of threats. And especially now with climate change, the summer is getting hotter, so there are fewer nuts and the trees aren't producing as many berries and so on. So there's less food. So that some of them are moving down to areas where second homes are, or farms. Farms, now, on the edge of the so-called wilderness, they often are visited by wild boar. The boar population and the deer population has exploded. So a lot of farmers are putting out snare traps to catch the boars and the deer, but unfortunately, the bears get caught in those too.

Jim Santos 12:22
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 12:22 
And then the farmer comes along like, oh my God, what am I going to do? I got a bear here. So they call picchio, and the picchio experts come, they tranquilize it, do some research, maybe put a radio collar on it and take it way up into the mountains and release it. That's the usual pattern. Yeah.

Jim Santos 12:46
I guess that's quite a surprise to come out in your garden and find a bear there.

Greg Goodmacher 12:50 
Yeah.

Jim Santos 12:51
Not like you can just go up and apologize and set them free. You mentioned some interesting food choices, too, in your article. There’s apples stuffed with scallops, roasted barnacles, sliced sea cucumber and ice cream.

Greg Goodmacher 13:07 
Oh, yeah. That was amazing. That was really good. Those are some of the things I've eaten in Aomori Prefecture, which is at the very northern tip of Honshu, the main island. It's the closest one to Hokkaido, and they have a really wild selection of food. It's surrounded on three sides by ocean, so there's all sorts of seafood products. Still a lot of mountains, which are fairly untouched in many areas. So there's a lot of wild game. And that's really quite a beautiful place.

Jim Santos 13:45
So have you found that your diet has evolved over the years that you've been in Japan? Are you on a more Japanese diet or a more Western diet?

Greg Goodmacher 13:54 
I am actually on sort of a Mediterranean diet. I married a Japanese woman and she is a gourmet cook and she actually prefers Mediterranean food. That's what she tends to cook the most. But when I go out to restaurants, I like to eat every it depends where you are. The big cities have everything and the food is fantastic. As many media reports about Japan often report, there are more Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo than there are actually in Paris. I think that is connected to the Japanese habit of getting really deeply into.

Jim Santos 14:45
One thing could be that Ikigigai.

Greg Goodmacher 14:48 
Yeah, so you get these people from… it's amazing. You might travel somewhere, some little tiny town, and then you'll meet somebody who's like, oh, I studied making pizza for five years in some area of Italy, or someone else lived in Thailand for ten years and has a Thai restaurant in the middle of nowhere in Japan.

Jim Santos 15:09
Yeah, I suppose that is kind of ingrained in the culture, even when you look at things like, as old as the tea ceremonies, where the idea is to be very meticulous in your detail and everything done exactly a certain way.

Greg Goodmacher 15:23 
Yeah.

Jim Santos 15:24
So I could see where that would have benefits in just about anything that you apply that to.

Greg Goodmacher 15:29 
That's very true. I agree with you. And speaking of the tea ceremony, I really love Japanese green tea, especially matcha, and the tea ceremonies are really wonderful. I'll never forget one particular… let me tell you a quick story. I went to a really incredible festival. It was in winter, it was in a Tokonami Snow festival. And in the Tokonami Snow Festival, the people create gigantic buildings and artworks of art out of snow. And in one area, they made a Japanese tea garden, all created from snow. And their tea benches.

And so we're sitting there in minus freezing temperatures, and these people are coming out, they're serving hot tea, wearing beautiful kimonos. Thera is also famous for kimono making. And it was just a wonderful memory.

Jim Santos 16:31
Now, going from the extreme cold to the extreme heat, you also wrote about the onsen hot spring baths.

Greg Goodmacher 16:38 
Yes.

Jim Santos 16:39
And I noticed your blog is also I believe it's hotspringaddict.blogspot/JP

Greg Goodmacher 16:44 
Yes. I am addicted to Japanese hot springs. They're the best thing in life for me. When I'm stressed, they just melt my stress away.

Jim Santos 17:00
Well, walk us through that. What's it like? You just don't go hop into hot water.

Greg Goodmacher 17:05 
Right.

Jim Santos 17:05
Is there a process or a ritual almost you go through to get into the hot springs?

Greg Goodmacher 17:11 
Yes, in a way. There's no shampoo, there's no soap in the bath. At the hot spring, people wash their bodies first before going into the hot spring. So everybody's clean and the water stays clean. And depending on where you are, people are often very, some places people are very quiet. Just relaxing and getting to your own zone, so to speak, is the thing. But there are other hot springs where people are very social and they chat. You might make friends and people, it really depends on the place. 

I've been in hot springs that are just mind blowing. One on the island of Kyushu, it's only accessible at low tide because the thermal water rises from the earth under the sea. And then at low tide, you can enter it, and then you can jump from rocks into the cold sea, swim around, come back, warm up again. I've been in hot springs on the side of rivers where you might do the same thing. I've been in hot springs surrounded by walls of snow where I warm up and then take the snow and rub it against my body. Love hot springs. Just thinking about it makes me feel good.

Jim Santos 18:44
I'm ready to go jump in one myself.

Greg Goodmacher 18:46 
Yeah, they are. They're amazing. And they're really cheap. It is amazing. There are community hot springs which are actually free, where the community cleans them, prepares them, and there might be a little box outside where you can leave a donation for upkeep.  in Kyushu, they have ones ranging from free, like I said, community, to about ¥100. So less than one US dollar up to, maybe the most expensive I think I ever paid was for a hot spring, was a really fancy hotel. Probably about ¥2000, about right now, about, say, $15 perhaps.

Jim Santos 19:34
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 19:34 
And some Japanese ryokan hotels, they have specials where you can eat an incredible lunch and go to the hot spring it's together. And of course, you can stay overnight. Take a bath when you arrive, relax.
Have another bath for dinner, eat a sumptuous meal, then have another bath, go to sleep, wake up in the morning, bath. There are so many different types ones. Waterfalls and mud baths.

Jim Santos 20:09
Incredible.

Greg Goodmacher 20:10 
The variety is astounding. Yeah.

Jim Santos 20:12
It sounds like you could make a tour of Japan just visiting different hot springs.

Greg Goodmacher 20:16 
Oh, yeah. There are thousands of hot springs. It would be impossible to visit everyone because you just won't have the time. And also there will be some new ones opening up.

Jim Santos 20:29
Right. Another feature of your article, something that's very important to expats and even just traveling abroad. You talked about the national health insurance program there and the medical advances. So you had some difficulty yourself, but had a very good experience with the healthcare system.

Greg Goodmacher 20:49 
Yes. I was diagnosed with throat cancer, stage four, and my wife did some research. And we found she searched for the hospital in Japan that has the best reputation for this particular type of cancer.

And I went there, and it was great. I have friends in America, and I talked to them about their experiences with medical care, and it's a world apart. My father had, like, a five-way heart bypass operation years ago, and I think he was only in the hospital for three days. Here, they would let you stay for, I don't know how long? At very least one week, probably two weeks.

Jim Santos 21:47
Yeah. The insurance companies in the US. don't want to pay for any extra days in the hospital if they can avoid it.

Greg Goodmacher 21:52 
Right. And there's no hassle with getting permission from your insurance company to have some sort of a test or special treatment. My doctor said you should get a CAT scan. It was scheduled a long time ago. It might have been the next day or definitely within three days at the most. I didn't have to talk to any insurance agents.

Jim Santos 22:16
Just between you and the doctors?

Greg Goodmacher 22:18 
Yes.

Jim Santos 22:19
I thought it was interesting also that you talked about how the emphasis is on wellness there.

Greg Goodmacher 22:25 
Oh, yes, definitely. In general, although things are changing. You have the older generation sort of still follows the older Japanese eating habits, which are much healthier. Unfortunately, a lot of the younger people have sort of become addicted to the Western fast food diet, but there's still a lot of knowledge and still a lot of restaurants that have really healthy meals for very cheap prices.

Jim Santos 22:57
And I thought it was also just charming that you said the local community really helped out during your hospitalization with keeping your house running and keeping things going back at home.

Greg Goodmacher 23:08
Yeah, that was amazing. Actually, at the time, I didn't think so much about it. Such things as, like, the college that I was working at, basically they said don't worry, Greg, just take care of your treatment.

And trying to remember, for about half a year, I didn't have any classes, I had no work and then the second half after that. I had one class maybe, and I normally have six or seven and have meetings. They were really good. I got my salary. There was no deduction, nothing. And then yeah, people came. My landlord came in, and she took photos of my dog, and made this photo album for me to take to the hospital because she knows how much I love my dog. And a neighbor came and took care of the dog, and it was great. People were really good.

Jim Santos 24:11
I'm glad you had such a positive experience about that. That can be a really scary thing to have to go through.

Greg Goodmacher 24:16 
Yeah. Yeah, it was. And actually, I was not only was it Japanese, were my Japanese neighbors really good, but also members of the foreign community came out. I was treated actually, I left Niigata to go to the best hospital in Japan for this particular cancer, and that was actually in Nagoya City. And by coincidence, I had lived in Nagoya City when I first came to Japan, and I still knew some people there. And some of those people heard about my illness. And one person just wrote me, said, hey, consider me your support team. When you arrive, I'll pick you up at the airport and take you there. And he was so good.

Jim Santos 24:59
That's great.

Greg Goodmacher 24:59 
And another person, he's into guided visualization. And he would visit me in the hospital and do these self-meditation techniques. To make me feel better.

Jim Santos 25:12
It sounds like it's really affordable as well. Now, you mentioned in the article you're described, pretty lovely home, that you're only paying the equivalent of about $600 a month for rent there. I know you've moved on from there, but in the article you talked about how the prices of the home seem to be affected by youth moving out of the area and not enough people moving in. So it's very much a buyer's market.

Greg Goodmacher 25:36 
Oh, it is.

Jim Santos 25:37
Is that why you decided to move?

Greg Goodmacher 25:40 
I decided to move for a couple of reasons. One is the area where I was living in Niigata was great when I was younger because I loved winter and so on, but now I'm getting into my 60s and my wife was having some joint problems and I was having some little neck problems too. So the cold was getting to us and we decided, okay, we'll move a little bit to a little warmer area. And then we can still go up in winter on short trips. And that's one reason. And her family is also along the Pacific side coast in Nagoya, so we wanted to visit them. And I still have friends in this area, but prices have stayed low.

Actually rents for two reasons. I think until recently there has been basically Japan has been in deflation. So while America and Europe has been suffering from inflation and prices have been going up, basically the prices in Japan of most things stayed the same until almost this year or last year, which I think inflation is basically around the same, but prices have stayed very low in Japan. It used to be people would go come here to Japan and they'd say, oh, it's so expensive.

Tokyo used to be in the list of the world's most expensive cities often. But now my visitors from Europe and America, they come here and they're like, it's so cheap. So that's one of the reasons why property values have stayed low. And like you said, young people are moving out of the countryside into the big cities. And actually the population of Japan is decreasing. It's been decreasing by about a million people every year.

Jim Santos 27:43
I think I'd read something about that. Yeah.

Greg Goodmacher 27:45 
And the population is getting older. A lot of those people don't want to live in their homes anymore. They're vacating their homes, going to apartments. There are so many homes that are free now, as in when nobody's there available and available for extremely low prices.

Jim Santos 28:08
Now, did you move into a single family home or are you in a condo situation?

Greg Goodmacher 28:14 
Actually, I moved into a condo. We bought a condo. It is right on the beach. I can walk out of the door of the building and be on a sandy beach within 1 minute. Because actually we have the 10th floor and we have the 11th floor. I see SUP borders, windsurfers, people fishing. I listen to the sound of the ocean before going to bed, before going to sleep and waking up. It's there. My mansion cost me probably the equivalent of $110,000.

Jim Santos 29:04
Wow.

Greg Goodmacher 29:05 
Sorry. When I said mansion, it's in Japanese. Sometimes I slip into Japanese. I put in maybe $10,000 in repairs and fixing things up, but I put a little bit more in. But there's no way I could buy anything like this at such a low price anywhere that I know of. No, not with the view of the Pacific and all that.

Jim Santos 29:32
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 29:32 
And I can still garden, keep a garden because there are community gardens not very far away.

Jim Santos 29:39
Oh, that's nice.

Greg Goodmacher 29:41 
And hot springs as well.

Jim Santos 29:44
I'm sure you're going to have the hot springs nearby. Well, other than hot springs, what would you say you like most about your life?

Greg Goodmacher 29:55 
I like gardening. I was just talking about that with one of my friends. She's from Texas, and we met at a writers conference recently, and we're talking about our return trips to America recently. I went to San Francisco. She went to Texas. And we just mentioned it. 

Both of us agreed that unfortunately, when we're in areas of the US, we tend to be on heightened alert. Always like, what does this person possibly want from me? It looks a little bit scary, and I just let my guard down a lot here. In Japan. I can remember when I first came to Japan, I was really surprised because I would see people going to an ATM and taking out thousands of dollars. And not hiding it. I'd get on a subway and I remember seeing some very drunk salary man late at night, and maybe he was, like, counting his money, trying to figure out how much did I spend? And I was like, he's doing this in the train at nighttime in front of everybody, and there's no problem.

Jim Santos 31:20
Yeah. It's amazing how in the US, you're pretty much bombarded with don't go to other countries because it's so dangerous. And when you travel, it seems more often to be the other way around. You find that you're much more comfortable and relaxed in these other countries and in a lot less danger.

Greg Goodmacher 31:39 
Yes, definitely. Well, of course, it depends on the country that you're in.

Jim Santos 31:43
Sure. It's not a great time to be in Syria, I guess.

Greg Goodmacher 31:47 
Yes, absolutely right. Yeah, I was in Abu Dhabi during when 9/11 happened. That was pretty scary as an American.

Jim Santos 31:59
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 32:00 
But other places in the world, and I've been to about 25 countries, can't remember. I mean, I have been alert and I have been scared a few times some places. But definitely here in Japan, I feel I am much more relaxed. I'm very relaxed, actually. I've lost things. I'm a really forgetful person. I have twice forgotten my computer on trains in Tokyo, and I've gotten them back. That's great. It's amazing. I have gotten other things, other places, and I almost always get them back.

Jim Santos 32:41
But now that you're said you're, excuse me, now that you're into your 60s and looking at retiring, do you see your future still remaining in Japan?

Greg Goodmacher 32:53 
Probably. My wife is interested in trying to find doing something like maybe half a year like in Malaysia or half a year maybe in the USA and then half back in Japan. Summers in Japan are very hot and sweaty so actually humid. There is a number of Japanese who actually do things like they go to Malaysia, the mountains of Malaysia during the hot season and then come back to Japan. That's one now, having a pre -existing condition. I'm worried about losing my money, my savings, if I were to get ill in the US.

Jim Santos 33:40
Right.

Greg Goodmacher 33:41 
And so staying here is see it seems like a good option. Definitely. I want to keep that open for me.

Jim Santos 33:52
We've been talking with Greg Goodmacher about life in Japan and his September 2023 article roasted Barnacles and Healing Baths in Rural Nigata, Japan. Greg will be writing future articles for International Living and you can read more about Greg and his love of hot springs at hotspringaddict.blogspot.jp. Greg, thanks for taking the time to share with us today.

 34:13.89 Greg Goodmacher
Oh my pleasure. And yeah, if anybody wants to make some comments or questions on the blog, I'd be very happy to answer their questions or respond to their comments.

Jim Santos 34:36 
The International Living Podcast is a production of International Living. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to help support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. If you have an idea for an episode or a question you'd like us to answer, email us at mailbag@internationalliving.com. And don't forget to put podcast in the subject line of your email. That's mailbag@internationalliving.com. 

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Jim Santos 35:52
In the coming weeks, we'll look at another often overlooked destination, Albania, and also find out how you can dance your way to better health in Mexico. Until then, this is Jim Santos for International Living, reminding you there's a bigger, better world out there just waiting for you.


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Winter Sports and Mountain Scenery in Niigata
Volunteer Work With Japanese Bears—An Alternative Hobby
Japanese Cuisine — Apples Stuffed With Scallops, Roasted Barnacles, Sea Cucumber
How to Enjoy the Japanese Hot Spring Ritual
A Good Experience With The Japanese Healthcare System
Why Japan Is A Buyer’s Market — $600 Rentals And Luxury Homes For Affordable Prices
Japan Feels Much Safer Than Being In The U.S.
Staying Here Forever Is Definitely An Option For Me