comscore Exhibit follows adventurer's travels in isles | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Exhibit follows adventurer’s travels in isles


Visitors to the Hawaii State Library can travel in the footsteps of 19th-century adventurer Isabella Bird, thanks to an exhibit of landscape photos by Kyoto University geographer Kiyonori Kanasaka.

The professor mapped out Bird’s journeys and took photographs that mirrored her images of Hawaii, Colorado, Japan, Korea, China, Turkey, Morocco and other destinations. Quotations from Bird’s writings, pieces of her biography and special mementos of Hawaii accompany the exhibit, guiding viewers through her life.

Hawaii was an important place for the Englishwoman, who traveled the world by steamship, railroad, horseback and other modes. Her letters from the islands in 1873 were the basis for her book, "Six Months in the Sandwich Islands," which gave distant readers a glimpse of life in the Hawaiian kingdom. Copies of Bird’s letters and an award from King David Kalakaua were provided by the National Library of Scotland for the exhibit.


A free photo exhibit

» When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through April 2

» Where: Hawaii State Library, 478 S. King St.

» Info: 586-3499


Bird’s early travel books contained drawings, but her later books included photographs when new technologies allowed her to take and publish photos. The exhibit provides ample proof of her passion for describing places and explains why she was the first woman elected as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Above all, we see the beauty of the world through Kanasaka’s photographs. He called his method "twin time travel," in which he retraced Bird’s paths from her many books to provide comparisons of scenes then and now. Kanasaka has been showing his photographs in places associated with her life, and, like Bird, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and its Scottish counterpart.

For the Honolulu exhibit, Kanasaka mapped Bird’s travels through Hawaii and took photographs of places she described.

Other Exhibit sponsors include the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii State Library, the Hawaii Council for the Humanities and Kyoto University.

Mary McDonald is an associate professor in the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Geography Department. Contact her at or 956-7016.


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