Sumos and Sakuras: How To Pull Off Your Own Japanese Themed Party (Free Cliparts Included)



  • Just because you want a styled party, doesn’t mean you have to stick to the cliche (think lanterns, pompoms, pastels).
  • If you want a truly different party, a great way to go is Japanese simply because Japanese culture is one of the most unique and highly distinctive in the world.
  • By the end of this post, you will be bursting with various ideas on how to execute your Japanese-inspired party. Think of the possibilities!


tale of toby sydney

Toby’s Photography by Ice Ong                               Sydney’s Photography by Adrian Ardiente

If you’re at a loss as to what specific Japanese theme you’d like for your party, try this: a Sumo theme for a boy, and a Kokeshi Doll theme for a girl.

Interestingly, I’ve done both parties!

More specifically, a Sumo Wrestler themed party for Toby, and a Kokeshi Doll themed party for Sydney Belle. Both turned out amazingly well and I’m going to share the details further with you.


When you hear Japanese, what comes to your mind? Here’s what I see:

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A traditional Japanese temple guarded by four stout sumo wrestlers! Here’s where things get interesting. For the stage, I decided to work on the facade of a Japanese temple complete with its arched roofing and hanging red lanterns. In the middle lies Toby’s celebratory cake framed by Toby’s traditional Japanese name (which reads: to-bee. I think!) on top.

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An oriental lantern display as photo-op area. I just LOVE how this turned out. The lighting of the lanterns and the way they are all lined up makes the set-up so interesting and photo-worthy.

toby invite wm

Have an awesome-ly designed Sumo wrestler themed invitation. Unknown to most people, the invitation is actually the starting point of inspiration for most stylists. It acts as a launching pad for further design ideas. And when you start with an invitation like this, you will surely be bursting with tons of ideas for your party.

Free Giveaway: Sumo Themed Dessert Topper Package (hi-res format)

Thinking about throwing your own Sumo-themed party? Here’s a great way to start. Simply sign up your email below, and you’ll receive a FREE PACK of our Sumo themed dessert toppers (characters drawn and digitized by Party Magic)!


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A decorate your own Sumo Wrestler / Kokeshi Doll craft activity for the kids. This one is a real catch. It’s right smack in theme, and a great way for kids to stay preoccupied while the adults socialize!

Suggested supplier: Try out Gladys of Crafts and Party Bucket. She is on top of my list for suppliers for craft activities, and the one who created the activity you see above. What I love about her is her ability to customize, and the fact that she has taste. This can be seen throughout how she designs her activities all the way to the level of service her staff provides.


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Sushi pillows as giveaways. Nothing probably beats a pillow in terms of usability, and turning it into the shape of something in line with your theme is a great idea.

Suggested supplier: Check out Pillow MeFor more ideas on giveaways and souvenirs, check out:

22 Awesome Giveaway and Souvenir Ideas For Your Birthday Party (With Recommended Suppliers)


When my husband’s good friend, Beau, contacted us for his daughter’s baptismal party, I became excited because I learned that their theme was Kokeshi.

Kokeshi dolls are absolutely adorable. I think they are cute and cuddly and…they just make me feel relaxed when I look at them. Don’t you too? Take a look at this one:

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Just look at the lightness of colors, the leveling of each dessert (some high, some low), framed by flying origami and hanging cherry blossoms, and backed by the lightness of bamboo and supreme natural daylight. All the credit goes to photographer Adrian Ardiente‘s mad skills for capturing this work of art.

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To the right: Sydney Belle’s delightful cake by Lovely Jiao of Sugarplum Pastries

Hire a skillful and reputable cake maker. In Manila, cake suppliers are a multitude, so choosing one wisely may be quite the challenge.

Suggested supplier: Below is my top 3 cake suppliers (in no particular order):

Tazzy Cakes

Sugarplum Pastries

The Bunny Baker

For more ideas on cake making and suppliers, check out:

The Best Birthday Cake Suppliers (blog post)


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Make origami kusudama flowers and place them beside framed photos of your daughter as centerpiece. These flowers are easy to make and perfect for the DIY mommies out there. Watch the video below to learn how to craft this flower:


Here are a few more things you can explore:

DSC_5578If you’re going the DIY route, make sure you stop by your nearest DAISO storeThey have all manners of Japanese trinkets that will prove useful to your party (such as Japanese bowls for your dessert table, the occasional Japanese lantern and other decor items).

sumo signage

To keep everything authentic, make sure you translate the celebrant’s name into Japanese and incorporate them into the decor. The above is a rough translation of Toby’s name in Japanese, incorporated into a banner that I designed for the stage. Although this is just a little detail, I believe that it’s the little things that make any party extra-special.

Tip: head on over to for a quick way to translate any name into its Japanese equivalent.


michelle creamery

The lovely Michelle of Creamery Catering

Work with your caterer on providing Japanese inspired food. The caterer that comes to mind for this one is Michelle of Creamery Catering. Creamery not only serves delicious food, but serves it in an attractive way. More importantly, Michelle is quite easy to talk to.

For more ideas on caterers, check out:

The Best Catering Services in Manila (blog post)


Provide kiddie-set meals in bento boxes. I think this kills two birds: one, you are providing pre-selected, individualized meals for the children, and two, you are perfectly in-theme!

Suggested supplier: There is only one supplier that comes to my mind: Bento Mommas. Check them out in Facebook here and Instagram here.


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Go for Japanese-inspired food carts. I’m thinking – Tamayaki (takoyaki balls, milk and fruit teas), Octoboy, and Masatami Shave Ice, just to name a few.


For those who have actually been to Japan, it is very very hard not to fall in love with the country, its people, and its culture.

If I was able to somehow capture a piece of that Japanese culture thru Toby and Sydney’s parties, then I would already consider the effort a smashing success.

Here’s to Toby and Sydney: may you have many more stylish parties to come!

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Adorable Toby

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Sweet Sydney



About the author

Michelle Lao


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