Who We Are

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Imagine this: Bamboo leaves rustle against the wind. A small waterfall splashes into a pond that’s bordered by natural stone. You gaze down at the white-and-gold koi as they whip their tails against the water.

Peace surrounds you.

Designer Kohei Owatari’s bio

Kohei Owatari was born and raised in Japan, where he earned a degree from Tokyo University of Agriculture. After graduation, he apprenticed at a landscape firm and worked at the garden retreats of Japanese royal family members. This is where he first learned and practiced the principles and skills of traditional garden design. 

After moving to San Diego in the 1980s, he became a landscape designer and a licensed contractor specializing in traditional and contemporary Japanese gardens. His Japanese garden designs and craftsman-quality work has been recognized and appreciated by home owners and commercial property owners throughout Southern California and beyond.

Remembering The “Now”

Whether you like to admit it or not, you’re stressed out. Bills, work, politics… LIFE. It’s easy to forget that the present moment is the most important moment to be in. And a lot of times, you need some sort of escape… What if we told you that you could find that peace in your own home?

Kohei Owatari and Associates have decades of experience specializing in Japanese landscape design, we create gardens, koi ponds, and other water features. Right in your home.

Contemporary and Traditional

We specialize in Japanese gardens and koi ponds, but we find that combining that with European concepts creates a unique style that fits well in Western settings. You won’t be getting anything cookie cutter from us!

Adaptability and Sustainability 

We have always been fascinated by the history of Japanese gardens and their emphasis on natural patterns and elements.

Our approach to designing and installing Japanese gardens in Southern California involves heavy collaboration and adoption of Japanese garden elements with local lifestyle, architectural style, and climate. For example, Southern California’s dry climate and alkaline soil conditions limit the use of many acidic-soil-loving plant varieties that are traditionally used in Japan. To adapt, we bring in western garden styles, local materials, technology, and plant life. We find that most clients appreciate his adaptability, and we think that this adaptability is what will sustain the art of Japanese garden design in the future.

Reverence for Nature

Nature plays a huge part in my landscape designs. We often use stone in its natural state or carve it to fit naturally with other features. Then they can be stacked to create even grander objects: a pillar, a wall, or mosaics. Every piece of stone has an incredible variety of texture and color that makes your garden different than any others.

We love to pair water and stone in my designs. They are complementary elements… which means they work well together to create a peaceful and natural environment. It’s a gentle reminder to forget about all the e-mails on your phone and look at your surroundings every once in a while!


  • Trade apprentice at Japan’s royal family’s residence
  • BS in Agriculture at Tokyo University of Agriculture
  • Exchange student in California – 1977-1978