Japan party theme - thumbnail image

I don't know anyone who doesn't dread those "Over the Hill" parties that people sometimes throw for those turning forty. I knew my husband Keith would hate something tacky so, I opted for something more lively, exciting and cultured for a small group of close friends.

I had already decided that sushi was definitely on the party menu, but I thought it would be fantastic to have a Japanese theme for his fortieth birthday party. I went all out to create a fantastic party.

I found some beautiful Japanese art note cards to use as invitations. On the cover were a blooming cherry tree and a white crane sitting on one of the branches. Cranes are a Japanese symbol of long life.

I am not creative in any way so I was concerned about decorating until I found out that our favourite Japanese restaurant had a banquet room. Since the restaurant were going to do the catering for the party I asked them if they could bring along some low tables and pillows to make the room look a little more traditional. The owner loved the idea and said for only a little more he would take care of everything.

On the night of the party the low tables were set with black china and there were plump pillows on the floor. Several beautiful oriental screens were placed in the corners of our living room and a globe paper lantern hung over the central table. I placed simple white candles in the centre of each table together with small vases of flowers. The decor had the air of simple elegance Keith and I so adored. I found myself wishing I had told our guests to wear kimonos.

We had every kind of sushi under the sun for appetizers which included salmon and avocado rolls, spicy tuna rolls, spicy crab meat roll, tuna and spring onion gunkans and salmon and beetroot sashimi. It was fun watching some people trying it for the first time. The sushi was incredible, so fresh and delicious and everyone loved it. Dinner was Miso soup, followed by a choice of teriyaki chicken, grilled fish, pan fried prawns and Japanese noodles, pork dumplings with sticky rice and steamed vegetables. Guests had a choice of iced tea, beer, or wine and of course sake. Keith's parents tried to use their chop sticks to eat with, but eventually gave up. Mum kept laughing as she dropped each piece of teriyaki chicken back onto her plate. I took some photos of her and some of the others playing with their food.

Dessert was a choice of green tea, ginger ice cream or Darayaki which is a custard filled pancakes with raspberry sauce. We tried a bit of everything.

Next came the entertainment, a group of dancers who perform regularly at the Japanese restaurant gave us a private performance of an authentic Japanese dance right in our living room. Their costumes and make-up were really beautiful. Everyone applauded when they were finished. Keith's dad suggested that we get up and get try to learn a few steps. At first I thought they might be embarrassed by so many tipsy English people coming up to them, but the dancers really got into teaching us. We even learned a few steps.

Everyone had a great time especially Keith. He told me he had been dreading his fortieth birthday party. He smiled and said, "But it wasn't so bad." In fact, he said would be all right with him if we did it again next year.