A Japanese birthday party is a fabulous alternative to the standard princess or pirate birthday party. A couple of years ago my good friend and artist Annie Ferris had a Japanese-themed birthday party for her daughter and was kind enough to share the photos. The girls are 4 years old, proving there’s no age limit to having a fun and educational birthday party.
I love how Annie managed to throw together a totally immersive experience while maintaining a down-to-earth vibe. Here are some of my favorite features of her daughter’s Japanese Birthday Party.
Sushi Rolling station
Ava still asks to make homemade sushi and this party is one reason why.
How to set up a Sushi Rolling Station:
Set up several low tables – kids craft tables or coffee tables work well – and use cushions for seating. Not only is this set up very Japanese, but it’s also easier for wiggly little ones to manage.
At each child’s place you’ll need:
- a placemat to catch spills (hers were Japanese flags)
- a bamboo rolling mat
- a set of children’s chopsticks (plain or zoo animals)
- a bowl for soy sauce (fish bowls are cute)
In the center of the table Annie provided:
- a pile of napkins (she used plain red for Japan but how cute are these blue fish?)
- several bowls with vegetables like asparagus, avocado, and cucumber for homemade veggie sushi (recipe)
- a block of cream cheese
- homemade sushi rice (recipe)
- decorations (more on that in a moment)
Annie also featured an easel at one end of the room with step-by-step instructions for rolling the sushi. She drew the instructions in marker – four per sheet.
Annie and her daughter went through the instructions slowly, making sure everyone had completed each step before moving on. Even the youngest sushi roller was able to participate with great success.
Since this party was for little people, Annie provided a few plastic serrated lettuce knives for slicing the sushi. While the knives were quite safe, pressing the knife straight into the rolled sushi didn’t work – however if the rolls were tight and I glided the knife gently back and forth it did work.
Homemade “Wasabi” cake
It might look like a spicy ball of wasabi, but this was the sweetest treat of all! Green frosting and sprinkles made this little girl’s homemade vanilla cake stay on theme.
Other sweets were found in the children’s goodie bags – such as Pocky Sticks and hard candies – all found at the local Asian market.
Scattered around the party were:
- silk cherry blossoms
- a little Bonsai Tree (a silk Bonsai tree or crystal money tree are great choices if you don’t have a green thumb)
- a red paper archway (easily be made with red wrapping paper)
- red paper lanterns (over the sushi station)
- some figurines like this Geisha
While I’ve provided links to online shopping, most of these items were found at the local Asian market.
4. Costumes etc.
The invitations came in little Asian-style takeout boxes (they were polka dotted) – these can be found at many craft stores or online. Included with the invitations were instructions to come dressed in Japanese clothes.
The costumes were a big hit with the children! From the fans to the kimonos, I love them all. The girl in the black and white dress had her hair tied in a bow on top of her head – just amazing… and next to her – I love that boy’s fish t-shirt!
Oh, and if you’ve hosted an epic globally-inspired birthday party let me know – I’d love to hear all about it!