Landscaper from Japan 本文へジャンプ

owner Taro Takahashi , one of the few Hawaii landscapers who served a strict landscaping apprenticeship in Japan

article from Home+Remodeling magazine

Hawaii Landscape: The Art of Balance

A landscaper turns an ordinary backyard setting into a tranquil Japanese garden.

Article by Lance Tominaga, Photos by Olivier Koning, Featured Landscaper: Taro Takahashi of Taro's Garden

Issue Date:  (Mon) May 2, 2011


The owner of this beautiful Kahala home wanted a change of scenery. More specifically, the narrow, disorganized plot that stretched across his backyard needed a complete makeover. With that goal in mind, he called landscape contractor Taro Takahashi of Taro’s Garden.

“The homeowner wanted a really simple Japanese garden,” says Takahashi, who started Taro’s Garden in 2002. “It involved a narrow area near the swimming pool, so there wasn’t a lot of space to work with. Creating a simple garden might seem easy, but it’s not. If you don’t know what to do, it can end up looking very bare.”

Takahashi, who usually does all the labor on his own, rolled up his sleeves and got to work.
The first order of business was clearing most of the existing area, creating a blank canvas. Takahashi then began placing the sprinklers, rocks and soil into the space. The detail-oriented artisan gets his rocks from Waianae, explaining that, to him, they have more character and visual interest.


White, dwarf Tacoma trees were planted at each end of the garden, providing a suitable frame for the outdoor setting. The middle area is adorned with a dwarf bottle tree, striking rock pieces and a Jaboticaba bonsai, which is native to Brazil. This particular bonsai blooms several times a year and thrives in partially shaded areas. Because the tree is already shaped, the homeowner only needs to prune areas that grow out of place in order to maintain it.

To the right of the bonsai is an aging kokuban tree – the only piece that Takahashi kept from the original garden. “That tree was in a good place, and that type is hard to find in nurseries, so I kept it,” he says.
An unobtrusive stone lantern provides a pleasing accent to the overall landscape.

The key to the entire work, says Takahashi, is striking a perfect balance. “Everything has to be in the right place,” he says. “You need the proper location of plants, the right amount of open space, the [appropriate] placement of the rocks – when you have the right balance, it makes the entire setting more comfortable.”


A Takahashi Japanese garden provides more than aesthetic beauty. With its asymmetric balance of nature and incorporation of plants, rocks and other features, the garden also instills the viewer with a soothing sense of peace and harmony.

Takahashi learned his trade in his native Japan, where he studied to be a landscape architect. (He is one of the few Hawaii landscapers who served a strict landscaping apprenticeship in Japan, according to Takahashi.) He later worked at a landscaping company and managed numerous commercial projects.

After four years, however, Takahashi switched gears. “I decided that I wanted to do more residential jobs; I wanted to do gardens,” he says. “With residential work, I could be more artistic and give a more personal touch.

“When I visited Hawaii, I saw that people here really like and appreciate Japanese gardens, so I moved here and started my own business.”


The Kahala homeowners were thrilled with the end result. Now, just shy of four years after completion, the plants have grown and matured, and the garden is even more alluring. It provides a delightful setting in which to relax, unwind and contemplate.

“They really like it, and so I’m happy as well,” says Takahashi, whose range of services also includes creating koi ponds, bamboo fences, stepping stones and indoor gardens. “Creating something that looks simple is what I enjoy. It’s actually hard work, but as long as I have a happy customer, it makes everything worthwhile.”