Japanese Theme Birthday Party Ideas

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Hosting a Japanese-themed birthday party provides an opportunity to transport guests into a rich culture filled with delectable food, potent libations and a Zen-like atmosphere. This themed party can be held indoors or out, and you may get as elaborate as you’d like with regard to decor, or let simplicity and tranquility reign.

The Look

  • Create a relaxing environment to set the stage for your soiree. Use paper lanterns to infuse your party space with soft, flattering lighting. Branches of real of artificial cherry blossoms can be placed in porcelain vases and used as centerpieces and to adorn your buffet table or bar. Make a hanging mobile out of paper cranes to add the Japanese art of paper folding, or origami, to the decor. To complete the serene ambiance, play traditional Japanese instrumental music.

The Fare

  • Offer a variety of tasty traditional Japanese foods. Create sushi rolls using sticky rice topped with seaweed, or nori, wrappers. Fillings may include raw, fresh salmon, slices of tuna or a combination of crab and avocado. Serve the cut sushi with spicy wasabi paste, soy sauce and pickled ginger. Marinate pieces of tuna in soy sauce, sugar and garlic and sear until the outside is golden brown and the inside is rare. Another delectable seafood appetizer is tempura-fried shrimp. Serve the seared tuna and battered shrimp with a zesty dipping sauce made of soy sauce, hot sauce, ground ginger and a sprinkling of sugar. For a tasty meat dish, marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce. Skewer the chicken pieces and grill them until they are golden brown. Top off the food with bowls of steamed and salted edamame, or soybeans.

The Desserts

  • If a conventional birthday cake or cupcakes are in order, use Japanese letters to spell out "happy birthday," or use the first initial of the guest of honor’s name to decorate cupcakes. Serve the cake with a scoop of green-tea ice cream. You also might offer traditional Japanese treats such as mochi, which is made from a glutinous rice pounded into a paste then molded into a shape. You can find plain as well as ice cream-filled mochi at Asian and specialty stores.

The Beverages

  • Complement Japanese fare with hot or chilled sake. Serve up a twist on traditional sake by using the alcohol instead of vermouth in a martini. Splash a teaspoon of sake into a chilled martini glass. Shake vodka or gin over ice and then strain into the glass. Garnish the cocktail with a slice of cucumber or a silver onion. Sapporo beer made in Japan also complements Japanese food from sushi to meat dishes. To accompany the desserts, serve tea in decorative Asian-inspired tea sets.

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