A Japanese-themed party can be simple and relatively inexpensive to organize while providing lots of fun for your guests. With a little attention to detail, anyone can turn their home into a welcoming Japanese space for a night, and the techniques you learn might even influence your own style.
Rice-Paper and Other Decorations
Make or purchase pre-made rice-paper decorations such as screens, lanterns and window coverings; rice-paper.com has ideas on how to pep up your space with traditional Japanese rice-paper decorations. You can also decorate with fans and use gift-wrapping paper with Japanese designs to cover up your other wall art for the night.
In addition to a couple of varieties of sake which guests can pour for themselves, have a selection of Japanese beers like Asahi and Kirin. For snacks, put out kaki peanuts, ajigonomi (a type of Japanese trail mix), edamame pods, Pocky, or anything that strikes your fancy as you browse in your local Japanese or Asian market.
The ritual of serving tea in Japan is complicated, with many culturally specific implications and movements that can take quite some time to learn. You may want to avoid learning tea service and simply have your friends gather around to have you pour them a glass or mug of green tea. As you sip your tea, you might fold simple origami shapes together or construct flowers of colored rice paper.
Set up a station with cooked sushi rice, nori, bamboo mats, a variety of fishes and chopped vegetables, soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger and, of course, chopsticks, and have everyone create their own sushi roll. Learn how to make sushi at Sushi Now and then share what you've learned with your guests.
Play a CD of traditional Japanese music like gagaku or sokyoku softly in the background to provide ambiance. Alternately, if your friends like to dance, put on a CD by Pizzicato Five, one of Japan's most popular exports in today's music market.
Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."