Japanese Culture Night: Celebrate at Home with Tea & Anime
Last week we planned an Australian night at home. This week we are heading north – to the land of anime, cherry blossoms, and tea. To one of the most beautiful countries in the world, celebrating both traditions and innovations. Are you ready? It’s time for a Japanese culture night.
Setting the Scene for a Japanese Culture Night
Japan is one of the best places I have ever visited, and there are so many ways that you can celebrate Japanese culture at home! From animated classics to modern technology, Japan has it all. So to set the scene, get yourself a Japanese tea set, some lanterns to decorate the room, and your favorite Nintendo games.
Cook some Japanese Food
The first thing that most people think about when they think of Japanese food is sushi. Which is great! But there are so many other amazing Japanese dishes to try – and many that are easy to make from home.
Sushi – the most obvious choice. Have some fun with it by using a make-your-own sushi kit and experimenting with different fillings.
Ramen – No, not the microwavable kind. Come on. That doesn’t count. Get yourself some good broth and authentic noodles. Your life will never be the same again.
Tonkatsu – While it sounds fancy, it’s just Japanese breaded meat! Made with chicken, pork, or fish, sometimes it’s also filled with cheese. Yum!
Stir fry – the easiest and most common choice for people to make at home. Mix your favorite meat and vegetables in a skillet (or better yet, a wok) with some stir fry sauce and serve with rice.
Sukiyaki – My absolute favorite Japanese dish. Often referred to as “hot pot”, it’s an interactive meal. Take a tray of raw meat and vegetables and cook them at your own pace in pot of hot broth. So fresh. So delicious.
Tamogoyaki – Japanese omelette made from grilling or frying thing layers of egg.
Furikake – ‘flakes’ or seasoning made from seaweed and other spices. Perfect for seasoning rice!
Bento box – Japan’s adorable, classier version of the brown bag lunch. Served in divided trays, bento boxes consist of a variety of Japanese foods.
Green tea – I don’t know if there is anything more Japanese than a traditional tea ceremony. While that’s a complicated thing to properly replicate at home, you’ll do just fine with some fresh green tea from your tea kettle.
Milk tea – My drink of choice every night in Japan! It’s exactly what it sounds like – tea with milk in it. I preferred it cold.
Rice beer – I’ll admit, it’s not my favorite. But rice beer is a Japanese staple.
Shochu – Japanese alcohol that is distilled from rice, brown sugar, sweet potatoes, barley, or other plants. It contains a moderate percentage of alcohol and is often drank with a mixer.
Sake – Probably the most famous Japanese alcohol, this one is made by fermenting rice. Unlike beer or wine, it has a much higher alcohol percentage of roughly 15-20%.
Snacks & Candy
Got a sweet tooth? Check out any of these Japanese goodies:
Kit-Kats – Yes, they are American, but Japan is full of different flavored Kit-Kats! Like matcha green tea, strawberry, and fall chestnut.
Pocky – ‘biscuit sticks’ dipped in chocolate, strawberry, or other flavored coatings.
Mochi – Made from rice, this sweet has a gummy-like texture and is usually filled with red bean paste, matcha, or other flavors.
Mochi ice cream – Take the mochi I just described and fill it with ice cream. You’re welcome. (Check out My/Mo in your grocery store’s freezer!)
Watch a Japanese Movie
Anything by Studio Ghibli
If there’s one thing that really stands out in Japanese film, it’s Studio Ghibli. Creator of the famous movies Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and so many others, Ghibli films are incredible! My favorite? Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s adorable!
The Grudge & The Ring
Both of these horror films were Americanized and released in the US. But if you want a true scare, watch the original Japanese versions.
An American movie set in Japan, in a place known as “Suicide Forest” at the foot of Mount Fuji. The lead character is played by Natalie Dormer (from Game of Thrones) who goes on a quest to find her missing twin sister in this suspenseful story.
A recent anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli, this film won several awards and is a well-loved romantic fantasy.
Pokemon, Sailor Moon, & One Piece
You can never go wrong with traditional Japanese anime. And each of theses series has enough episodes to entertain you and the kids for ages!
Learn the Lingo
Most people know some basics in Japanese, even if they don’t realize it! Thanks to a famous song about a robot, we know “arigato” means “thank you”. The counterpart? “Doitashimashite” is a very fun way to say “you’re welcome”!
When your guests enter your house for your Japanese culture night, greet them with “kon-nichiwa” and bid them farewell with “sayonara”.
Play Japanese Games
Japan is known for so many pop culture staples, and rightfully so. One of the best? Video games! Nintendo has been a favorite for so many years, and there are lots of great options to play. You can choose to go old school with the classic Nintendo or the N64, or you go for something handheld, like the DS or the Switch. Either way, it’s a great way to entertain the family.
Did you know that you can go-kart around the streets of Tokyo? It’s almost like real-life Mario Kart!
Not into video games? There are plenty of board games from Japan as well – and they are all fantastic! My husband and I are huge board game nerds, and we have several Japanese board games on our shelves. A few favorites are Machi Koro, Tokaido, Takenoko, and Sushi Go. Check them out for yourself!
If you want to get out of the house for a short while, take a walk and catch some Pokemon! While the craze to ‘catch them all’ seems to come and go in the US, it is ever-present in Japan. There are even several Pokemon centers around Tokyo!
Lastly, for an even more subdued activity, you can never go wrong with reading some traditional anime comic books. There are so many good ones to choose from!
Enjoy Japan… At Home
Now that you have all the pieces to host your own Japanese culture night, you’re in for a treat! You might just find this a regular occurrence in your house.