In 1919, in commemoration of the coronation of Emperor Yoshihito (and a sign of good Japanese-Hawaiian relations,) Japanese in Hawaiʻi offered to construct a modified duplicate of the fountain in Hibiya Park Tokyo in Kapiʻolani Park.
The official presentation of the “Phoenix Fountain” was conducted by Consul General Moroi who announced the fountain was a “testimonial of friendship and equality of the Japanese residing in the Hawaiian Islands.”
One Japanese speaker noted, “We are assembled here to mark a spot of everlasting importance in the annals of the history of the Japanese people of Hawaii.”
Unfortunately, such friendship and trust did not prevail over the years, the victim of racial turmoil generated by World War II.
Reportedly, the Honolulu Advertiser noted on the 1st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor that the “fountain which stood in Kapiʻolani Park for 25-years as a public symbol of Japanese imperialism may at last be removed.”
Following the racial animosity generated by World War II, in 1943, the Phoenix Fountain was destroyed and turned to scrap. A basic fountain was built.
Later, in the 1960s, the city constructed a fountain in honor of Louise Dillingham, who served many years as a member of the former City Parks Board (reportedly, the Walter and Louise Dillingham Foundation gave the fountain to the city in 1966.)
Her husband Walter Dillingham is known for the huge changes he made to Honolulu’s landscape – which included draining Waikīkī’s wetlands, dredging the Ala Wai Canal and filling in Waikīkī’s wetlands.
Today the fountain at Kapiʻolani Park has become a popular resting spot for joggers and a regular backdrop for photos (it has also served in scenes in prior Hawaii Five-O episodes.)
It’s located across the street from the Elks Club at Poni Moi Street.
The fountain is presently empty and idle, and has been this way for several months now. As for its current status, here’s an update from Nathan Serota, spokesman for the parks department: “Currently we are determining the best course of action to get the Dillingham Fountain operational.”
“Following an assessment of the fountain, city electricians believe the entire electrical system will likely need to be replaced. Simple repairs will not suffice. There is significant damage to the pump room, including within the electric vault. Because of these safety hazards, Hawaiian Electric has removed the two meters servicing the fountain.”
“An initial cost estimate to replace the electrical system is $300,000.” (Star Advertiser)