My friend Rachel will be glad to know that she is the proud owner of a collapsible candlestick… or at least the proud owner of most of a collapsible candlestick.
Within 24 hours of my original posting, Ben had not only solved the mystery but he also posted an entire Flickr set of his own Japanese Traveling Candlestick (that I believe was made by his grandfather). The joints are slightly different, but the items are undeniable the same design. He even included pictures of the original owners manual.
Be sure to check out the picture of the missing piece on his Flickr set. Thanks Ben for posting the pics, Ferry for the original candlestick suggestion and Shimone for submitting the link to BoingBoing.
BTW, a quick search on “traveling candlesticks” turned up this Star Wars-esque candlestick holder. It’s like the Death Star of David.