This kind face belongs to Hirayama Masaaki.
He runs the parking lot and information booth at Kirishima Kinkowan National Park, a short drive from my area up on the Ebino Plateau. He spoke in surprisingly decent English (which is something you are less likely to encounter out here in the country.) I ran into him again after my hike around the volcano lakes when he flagged me down to ask how it all went. We chatted for a bit about where I am from and where he grew up. As it so happens, he graduated from one of the schools I now teach at, many years ago. I complimented him on his English, and his face lit up. Excitedly, he went on to explain that he never had formal training in English conversation while in school. He taught himself what he could but learned most of it from listening to records and watching movies with the subtitles on. He was ecstatic to hear how well that had served him, and it was clear he took a lot of pride in it. He gave me his business card (a practice which is a big deal in Japan) and told me to come visit again sometime. I headed to my car to leave, but turned back at the last second to ask (now practicing my Japanese) if I could take his picture. He happily agreed.
Afterwards he hurried inside his booth and came out a moment later, handing me a small gift. It was a local delicacy, he explained, a popular cake from the Miyazaki area, often given out as omiyage. (Omiyage a common practice where a gift or souvenir is given to friends, coworkers, and family after returning from a trip.)
“Be careful, though,” Masaaki-san cautioned, as I thanked him, “for I’ve put poison inside”
I raised my eyebrows and after a beat he cracked a large grin and laughed. So if you never hear from me again after this post, you’ll know why.
Oh yeah, here’s some photos of the volcano lakes hike.
Till next time ✌🏻