My bamboo walking stick carried greetings of Aloha through Japan.

Before Christmas, I wrote about my favorite items at the annual Made in Hawaii show. I purchased a bamboo walking stick on the spot and told the maker that I was planning a trip to Japan for the holidays. The stick would probably come with me, too. That’s when he made the most wonderful suggestion. He told me to buy a permanent marker pen and have everyone I meet sign it as a remembrance of the trip. I was thrilled with the idea and immediately asked him to be the first one to sign it!

I’ve traveled from Hawaii to Japan twice and am totally in love with the country. From Hawaii, it is an easy nonstop international flight and can be an adjunct trip via your trip to these islands. A stay over in Hawaii would be a good way to adjust to the time and date change of a trip to anywhere in the Pacific Rim.

Now back to my adventures. I was told that I could take my walking stick onto the plane without problems, especially since it has no metal on it. This was true, but it still went through the x-ray machine. My stick is rather tall, like a ski pole, and it fit in the upper compartment (barely). Other than me tripping myself on it and practically falling to the floor, it went through Japanese customs with no problems.

After that, they sent a customs person to personally carry it the rest of the way through. I asked her to be the first one in Japan to sign my stick, and although she didn’t speak English or understand what I was saying, the lady did eventually sign it with a big smile.

Looking back, I don’t think one person who signed it spoke English. I got really good with the sign language and gestures of what I was asking, though, and this turned out to be the really fun part. As I began to collect more signatures, people would start reading what others wrote. It actually became quite entertaining.

I do remember one incident when I was on a boat cruise and asked the tour guide for a Japanese group to sign it, even though I wasn’t in his group. There was a little girl, about eight years old, in the group standing nearby. I looked down at her and saw the expression on her face. I could tell she really wanted to sign it, too, but was too polite to ask me. Of course, I asked her, and her face just lit up.

When I look at the stick now, I have little idea what it says. But it was all written with such Aloha and warmth and fun that it’s become a treasure to me now.


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