A vintage postcard can speak a thousand words about the history of a place or an era. I came across one online from 1926 that shows a black and white photo of a Japanese fountain at Kapiolani Park. It’s surrounded by swaying palms, with Diamond Head in the background

This postcard on eBay is being sold for $19.99.

Although collecting vintage postcards has become one of the top five most popular hobbies around, I can’t say that it’s one of mine in particular. But I can say that I’ve grown to appreciate everything vintage and am a fiend for history. That’s why this postcard instantly caught my eye; from the decorative cursive writing to the Abe Lincoln 3-cent stamp, there was something about it that peaked my interest.

The postcard appears to have been sent to London from Honolulu. The sender writes, “Reached here this morning” and goes on to talk about the rainy weather in islands at the time. But what fascinates me the most about this particular postcard is the aged photo in the front. It’s definitely not the current water fountain we see today at the Diamond Head end of the park, so what is it?

Apparently the “Japanese Fountain,” as written on the postcard, was gifted to Honolulu by the Japanese of Hawaii in the early 1900s. This is according to author Dennis Ogawa of “Jan Ken Po: Jan Ken Po.” He writes that the “Phoenix Fountain” was a modified duplicate of a fountain in Tokyo, both erected in commemoration of Japan’s twenty-third emperor, Emperor Yoshihito. During the fountain’s dedication ceremony, the Consul General of Japan at the time announced that it was a “testimonial friendship and equality of the Japanese residing in the Hawaiian Islands.”

Although the article doesn’t say exactly where this fountain once stood, it does note that the ceremony marked “a spot of everlasting importance.” This importance, however, didn’t seem to last very long because the bombing of Pearl Harbor instantly changed those friendly feelings the Japanese and Americans once held for one another. The fountain was destroyed in 1943 and its metal casting was turned into scrap.

Photo Courtesy: Screenshot from eBay


  1. I don’t know but I think it’s highly likely that the Japanese fountain was in exactly the same spot where the current fountain is located. After all, that’s where the plumbing is. Putting it anywhere else would have entailed extra expense.

    The background and trees match the current location, too.

    The current design is boring by comparison so I think a case can be made for scrapping it and recreating the Japanese fountain. L35R

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