Adults worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure his safety.

The idea of traveling from one end of a country to another by yourself can be a really appealing adventure for some. With a craving for new experiences and a positive outlook, such memorable trips can often be life-changing.

Wanderlust-filled Japanese junior high school student @REIbahobahoanta’s dream is to travel the world on a boat with his friends. Some people would consider it a child’s fantasy, which was why few people took the 15-year-old seriously when he announced on Twitter that he will be attempting to cross America by hitchhiking. But when Rei (his handle) actually arrived in Los Angeles airport alone on 4 February, alarm bells started ringing in everyone’s heads. Here was a minor, who barely spoke English, who would be relying on random strangers for help.

▼ His parents had actually encouraged him to do so.
(Translation below)

“I have finally embarked on my journey to traverse America, hoping to inspire countless people and generations with my trip. I’ll do my best. If this message gets 1,000 retweets, I will travel barefoot.”

Traveling alone in a foreign country is by no means unheard of, but this was an unsupervised boy in a foreign land with a vastly different culture. While a few netizens cheered him on, many Japanese people — particularly those living in America — were concerned for his safety.

▼ Like this Japanese mother in Massachusetts.
(Translation below)

“I don’t wish to rain on your parade, but as a mother of a junior high school daughter and as a person living in America, what you are doing is extremely dangerous. If anyone encounters Rei, please encourage him to take other means of transportation.”

Rei’s bold plan involved hitchhiking and staying over in strangers’ homes, which could prove fatal if he met the wrong company. News began to spread among the Japanese community, and adults pitched in to ensure Rei was safe.

▼ His naivety may cost him someday.
(Translation below)

“I stayed over at a Japanese person’s home again. He contacted me through Twitter, invited me over for dinner and even made a bento lunchbox for me. I’ve been relying on Japanese people ever since I got to America, but I’m doing fine now thanks to them!! I’m going to enjoy this!”

▼ Police stopped him at one point.
(Translation below)

“Police officers actually came and questioned me when I was in a city, and were shocked to find out I was trying to travel across America. They told me to get into the patrol car and contacted my parents, but dropped me off in the middle of nowhere once they got their consent. They cheered me on, and now I’m so excited!!”

But on 15 February, the junior high school student claimed that he was being held at a Youth Protection Center in Las Vegas. The next day, 12 days after Rei first started his journey, he announced that he was cutting the trip short and heading back to Japan immediately.

▼ This was the reason he gave.
(Translation below)

“I wish to tell you all that I am returning to Japan by my own free will. Concerns from adults did not influence my decision. The reason I was held at a Youth Protection Center was that it was a punishable crime for parents to allow children less than 18 years of age to travel unsupervised. My father safely picked me up, and I do not wish to cause more trouble.”

The Japanese Internet breathed a sigh of relief, glad that Rei has safely returned to Japan. If his actions are anything to go by, however, we are pretty sure he will return to America someday when he is a lot older and wiser. Until that time comes, perhaps he can satisfy his wanderlust in Little America in Japan.

Source: Twitter/@REIbahobahoanta via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso