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Oh, the gentleman was not smiling for me; he was genuinely amused by the circumstances.
Thirty-plus years ago, very few ordinary Japanese had "close encounters" with foreigners. And only guides and western-style hotel staff spoke conversational English. Like 99% of my fellow Americans- I spoke no Japanese. So when I indicated that I'd like to take a person's photograph, it was almost certainly the first time it had happened to that person. In societies where regular people were generally unafraid (i.e. Japan), such a unique encounter was non-threatening at worst, and often a fun thing to share with their families and friends ("Hey, I was working at the shrine yesterday and this big, bearded American took my photograph. I should have charged him a thousand yen as a modeling fee, hahaha").