Musings Newsletter: Theme Party “Journey to Japan”

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Inviting my best friends to my home for a theme party is one of my favorite things to do. So, a few years ago I decided that every year for my birthday, I would treat myself and my “girls” to this experience. 🙂

Last summer, for my birthday I invited my closest friends to my home to join me for a Japanese themed dinner party. We had so much fun!

To prepare for the party I ordered authentic Japanese bento boxes (which are actually Japanese “lunch” boxes). I had experienced a bento box dinner at a wonderful restaurant at the Mall of America here in Minnesota called “California Cafe.” I decided to duplicate this elegant serving style at my dinner party.

Traditionally a bento box has a different little section for each course of the meal. The bento boxes I purchased have 4 compartments. One for a salad course, one for an appetizer course, one for a rice course, and one for a meat/vegetable course. There is a tiny compartment located in the center of the bento box for a desired condiment that will enhance the meal (such as hot mustard, sweet and sour, or fish sauce to go with wontons or eggrolls.) A sample menu for a bento box would be:

  • Appetizer Course- Eggrolls, dim sum, or wontons with hot mustard and fish sauce
  • Salad Course- Cole Slaw tossed with mayo, sunflower seeds, a dash of cayenne pepper, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and honey, and shredded carrots.
  • Meat/Vegetable course- Cooked chicken or pork chunks tossed with stir fry veggies, Japanese noodles, and peanut sauce.
  • Rice Course-Sushi is always my first choice…or, brown rice with butter and soy sauce.

I set the table with a golden organza table cloth and the 4 bento boxes, chop sticks and forest green organza party favor bags that held a bag of “Tazo-Zen” tea, a sake-rose votive candle, and the menu as a keepsake.

On my fireplace mantle I embellished two large glass cylinder hurricane lanterns with Japanese newspaper (as seen in my book “Welcome Home” on page 47.) I also included a crystal vase filled with faux bamboo. The mantle had a understated “Zen” elegance that set the stage for our “Journey to Japan.”

Some other fun ideas for a “Journey to Japan” party would include:

  • Wear kimonos!
  • Burn incense.
  • Set up an indoor fountain. The sound is so relaxing.
  • Play the soundtrack to “Memoirs of a Geisha“… the perfect background music for this occasion!
  • Warm, almond or lemon scented washcloths offered to each guest before the meal.
  • Ice cold sake served in hollowed out cucumber sake cups.
  • Sencha and green tea ice cream served in authentic Japanese rice bowls for dessert.


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