Simple Japanese Party Food and Drinks!

It’s mid-winter and very cold outside so it’s a great time to have a Japanese themed party with your friends inside a warm home. I live in the UK so everything in this blog post is available from the Japan Centre in London. You’ll be able to pick up most of these ingredients at your local supermarket or convenience store if you live in Japan. Whether you live in Japan or your home country, make sure you invite all your Japanese friends. They’ll love all the drinks and snacks on offer at your party. I think it’s important to stick to popular and much-loved favourites to make sure everyone enjoys the food.

Drinks

There are lots of different drinks available in Japan but I think sake might be a bit strong for this kind of party so I’m recommending some lighter drinks. If you want to stick with the more popular beers buy a few bottles or cans of Kirin Ichiban Shibori Lager or Asahi Super Dry. I recommend umeshu (plum wine) for your guests who like sweeter alcoholic drinks, and Calpis or Melon soda for the kids.

KirinAsahiTakara plum wineMelon soda

 

 

 

 

 

Sushi

Every good Japanese themed party should have a selection of sushi but this can be time-consuming and fiddly to make. Don’t worry, there’s a simple alternative: Salmon and tuna nigiri sushi are much easier to make than temaki and maki sushi. Watch this short instructional video by The Telegraph and you’ll have your nigiri sushi ready in about half-an-hour. Don’t forget to add 1 tablespoon of sushi rice vinegar to 250 grams of freshly cooked short grain steamed rice for an authentic taste.

Japan offers an incredible selection of savoury and sweet snacks you can buy in stores, from vending machines, and at train station kiosks all over the country and you can see a lot of these delicious delights have definitely been influenced by the Western world. The selection below is mostly old favourites you can buy in Japan but there are also some really tasty treats on the list you can get at the Japan Centre, such as the green tea & atzuki bean swiss roll and the cream breads. There are also lots of different variations of Pretz and Pocky in Japan. Almond Crush Pocky has been a firm favourite since its introduction in 1971 so I definitely had to include it here. Kitkats are obviously available worldwide but I recommend the matcha (green tea) version if you want to stick with the Japan theme.

I hope you enjoy all the scrumptious food in this blog post at your Japanese themed party. If you want to make your party even more authentic why don’t you greet your guests at your front door in a kimono? Don’t be afraid to encourage everyone to dress up and have fun!

Savoury Snacks

1. Wasabi peas
2. Pretz Tomato Pretzel Sticks
3. Nori Seaweed Rice Crackers
4. Nuts Aji Gonomi Savoury Mixed Snacks

wasabi peas

Pretz tomato

seaweed snacks

nuts savoury

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Snacks

1. Pocky almond crush
2. Panda Chocolate cream biscuits
3. Meiji Kinoko No Yama (mountain mushroom shape) Chocolate Biscuits
4. Lotte Koala’s March Chocolate Cream Biscuits
5. Japan Centre Green Tea and Azuki Bean Swiss Roll
6. Japan Centre Hello Kitty Character Chocolate Cream Bread
7. Totoro cream bread
8. Matcha (green tea) kitkat

pocky-almond-crush

meiji-hello-panda-chocolate

meiji-kinoko-no-yama-mushroom-biscuits

koalas-march-chocolate

matcha-azuki-swiss-roll-side

Hello Kitty Bread

Totoro bread

kitkat-share-pack

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 from Renae at Cherry Blossom Stories

I’d like to thank everyone who has read my books, visited my blog, and supported me in 2016. I hope to receive your continued support in 2017.

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Admittedly, I haven’t been doing a lot of writing in 2016. I would have liked to have done a lot more writing this year but I’ve been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome for over ten months. This is making the palms of my hands and my fingers tingly and very itchy so it’s difficult for me to keep typing for long periods of time, but it’s slowly getting better with the help of wrist braces that I’ve been wearing for as long as I can when I sleep. I’ll need to keep wearing these splints for a few more months before I can start typing continuously for several hours again. I’ve been concentrating a lot more on reading than writing this year. I’ve read some amazing stories and quite a lot of Japan-related books from some fabulous authors who have opened my eyes to different writing styles, a variety of plot structures, and some wonderful characters.

Despite the problem with my hands, I’m currently working on my next book Tokyo Dreams, the sequel to Tokyo Hearts: A Japanese Love Story. I’m sorry for the delay in publishing this next book and I appreciate your patience.

Happy Holidays!

My Photoshoot at Sudeley Castle & Gardens – “The Most Romantic Castle in England”

On Friday 25 November, my husband Roy and I had the honour of visiting Sudeley Castle and Gardens in Winchcombe in the south-west of England for a photoshoot and it was a truly memorable experience! Sudeley Castle is said to be “the most romantic castle in England” and Roy and I can certainly attest to that. I’ve visited a lot of stately homes, castles, and places of historical interest over the past twelve years during my time in the UK, but Sudeley Castle really stands out as the most breath-taking and fascinating estate I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.

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I visited Sudeley Castle with a purpose. I needed a high-resolution photo and I thought Sudeley Castle would be a fantastic location for the photos. I’d also been thinking of updating my profile photo for social media (this was long overdue) and we obviously couldn’t take any old photo of me with my phone so I decided to arrange a photoshoot somewhere special and this Tudor castle, with its glorious grounds and its fascinating library, was the perfect choice.

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I called Astrid Martin, the Corporate Events and Weddings Manager at Sudeley Castle, and
when I spoke to her I was delighted to discover she was very professional and also absolutely
charming and obliging. Astrid met us on the Friday morning at the castle and guided us around the stunning gardens (the Knot Garden is pictured on the left) and the Banqueting Hall.

 

Later in the day, we were given permission to take some photos in The Dent Brocklehurst Family’s Private Library inside Sudeley Castle (pictured below). One of my The Dent Brocklehurst Family’s Private Libraryfavourite authors is Charles Dickens so I was very pleased to discover a copy of David Copperfield by Dickens on the bookshelf in the library. We were also shown Charles I’s despatch box which was used during the Battle of Naseby, a beautiful 16th-century Sheldon tapestry, and priceless works of art including a portrait of Rubens by Van Dyke, all of these exquisitely preserved in this resplendent library.

 

After the photoshoot, Astrid told us there were several ghosts haunting Sudeley Castle and one ghost in particular hovers in the hall between the library and the kitchen. Interestingly enough, we stopped walking exactly where the ghost is said to exist and we realised we had to head back to the library. Maybe this ghost prompted us to pause and turn around!

Sudeley Castle is steeped in history and contains treasures dating back to ancient Roman
times but it’s also very famous for being the only privately owned castle to have a queen buried rsz_catherine_parrin its grounds. On 30 August 1548, Queen Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, gave birth to her daughter Mary here but unfortunately she died seven days later. She is buried in St Mary’s church in the grounds of Sudeley Castle. Queen Katherine Parr can be seen resting serenely in her marble burial place (pictured on the left) in this beautiful chapel, bordered by the very elegant and pretty White Garden.

 

 

 

Obviously, Queen Katherine Parr is extremely famous for being the final queen consort of the House of Tudor but as a writer I was immeasurably impressed by the fact that Katherine Parr (alternatively spelled Catherine or Kateryn) was the first woman in history to have a book published in English using her own name. 

Sudeley Castle has a lot of royal connections: Henry VII granted the castle to his uncle Jasper Tudor after the Wars of the Roses but it was returned to the monarch and became the
property of King Henry VIII after his death. Henry VIII visited the castle with his second wife Anne Boleyn in 1535 but following Henry’s death in 1547 Sudeley Castle was passed on to King Arial view of Sudeley CastleEdward VI who granted the castle to his uncle Thomas Seymour, the brother of Queen Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr’s fourth husband (Katherine Parr and Seymour married in secret because the Regency council didn’t approve of their union only six months after Henry’s death).

 

 

Sudeley Castle is definitely a must-see attraction for tourists and the perfect place for a dreamy wedding or an important function. Your special occasion here will Wedding ceremony in the librarybecome part of the castle’s history and your event will be remembered forever by your family and your guests. In fact, the English international model and actress Liz Hurley famously married Arun Nayar at Sudeley Castle in 2007. The castle and its grounds can provide spacious dining, catering, and waiting staff in the Banqueting Hall and Terrace Pavilion for up to 120 guests and the library can be used for more intimate events (pictured left).

Please contact Astrid Martin directly at Sudeley Castle on +44 (0) 1242 602 308 
for all enquiries.
I can assure you Astrid will go the extra mile to make sure you have a weddingsfantastic experience during your time at the castle.

I can also highly recommend Katy Pheiffer and Charles McArthur if you’re looking for a first-class makeup artist and an excellent photographer. Katy is listed as one of the top five makeup artists in Gloucestershire and both Charles and Katy are willing to travel all over the UK and abroad for events. Thank you, Katy and Charles for your professionalism and for the wonderful makeup and photographs. Below left is a photo of me taken by Charles McArthur at Sudeley Castle in front of the door leading to the Banqueting Hall.

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Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank Astrid Martin, Lady Ashcombe, and the Dent-Brocklehurst family at Sudeley Castle for giving us the opportunity to visit the castle in November and for making our day extra special.

 

 

 

The photos in this blog post are courtesy of the Sudeley Castle & Gardens website, the Historic Houses Association website, and Charles McArthur Photography.

Cherry Blossom Stories Xmas Competition: Win a Signed Copy of TOKYO TALES and a CHERRY BLOSSOM SOLID PERFUME from Amygdala

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW ENDED. The winner is Kaz Asami @azami_kaz on Twitter. Congratulations Kaz, you’ve won a signed copy of my book Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories with illustrations by Yoshimi Ohtani and a Cherry Blossom Fragance by Amygdala!

This Christmas I’m offering you the chance to win a signed copy of my book TOKYO TALES: A COLLECTION OF JAPANESE SHORT STORIES with gorgeous illustrations by YOSHIMI OHTANI OF ARTas1 and a CHERRY BLOSSOM SOLID PERFUME by AMYGDALA from Not On The High Street.

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All you need to do is RETWEET THE PINNED TWEET ON TWITTER andLIKE” MY CHERRY BLOSSOM STORIES FACEBOOK PAGE for your chance to win. Don’t worry if you’re not on Facebook because your retweet on Twitter will still count!

The winner will be announced on 09 December, 2016 at 12 p.m. GMT.

 

 

 

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The main prize, a signed  paperback copy of my book Tokyo Tales: A Collection of Japanese Short Stories is also available to buy in paperback and eBook from more than 60 retailers worldwide including Amazon Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. This book includes a hellish homestay, ghosts, school bullying, a marriage arrangement and a story dedicated to the kawaii culture.

 

 

 

 

This Cherry Blossom Solid Perfume below is also part of the prize and it’s by Amygdala from Not On The High Street.  Made with beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter and parfum blend, this recipe has been perfected to create a silky luxuriant texture that glides onto the skin to leave an invisible and scented finish. This perfume is not cherry-blossom-fragrance-tintested on animals and it’s suitable for vegetarians, but not vegans as it contains beeswax (£10 plus delivery).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Below are some more cherry blossom-inspired gifts from Not On The High Street that really caught my eye. If you’re looking for some unique gift ideas for Christmas these lovely items might be the perfect presents for those special people in your life:

preview_cherry-blossom-biscuits

These Cherry Blossom Biscuits are made by Eat My Cake London. You get four pretty, handmade, hand iced, blossom biscuits in a gift box. Each delicious biscuit is iced in a delicate shade of pink, and topped with tiny yellow stamen. They are made from: Biscuit: flour, sugar, butter, eggs. Royal icing: icing sugar, pasteurised egg whites. Once opened you should store them in an airtight container. They are best eaten within three months. (£8 plus delivery)

 

 

This beautiful Illuminated Cherry Blossom Bonsai Tree is a stylish home accessory. Forty-eight clear blossom caps cover this 45cm tree and each houses one warm white LED bulb to create a normal_illuminated-cherry-blossom-treecosy atmosphere when illuminated. Super safe, the LED bulbs stay cool so you can safely leave this tree lit around little fingers and fabrics. This beautiful bonsai tree features a hand wrapped trunk and branches for an authentic feel and it sits on a sturdy metal base. With a 5m brown lead cable to the low voltage transformer (plug) you’ll find it a breeze to place anywhere in your home and each stem can be twisted and shaped into position so you can choose to have a full or swept looking tree. (£20 plus delivery)

 

 

This Blossom Wrap-around Bangle with Swarovski Crystals by J&S JEWELLERY is a gorgeous normal_blossom-wraparound-bangle-made-with-swarovski-crystalsbracelet made with shimmering Swarovski crystals. It’s also available in silver and rose gold plating with different pastel coloured crystals. A matching ring and ear crawlers are also available. (From £24 plus delivery)

 

 

 

 

 

This Japanese Self Wrap Book Cover by MUSUBI LONDON is an elegant double-sided Japanese cloth (known as ‘furoshiki’ in Japan) – perfect as a book cover. Beautifully designed and printed in Japan, these plum tree and blossom normal_japanese-self-wrap-book-coverpatterned furoshikis offer double sided usability. You can customise your favourite books, alternate your daily lunchbox wrap, or even gift wrap a ‘his and hers’ present to your closest friends. The ‘small’ size range from Musubi London is a great starting point for furoshiki users. This practical size provides plenty of flexibility for everyday use – there are no rules, just sort, organise and get creative with this versatile cloth. (ÂŁ8 plus delivery)

 

 

This Multi Blossom Pendant Necklace by DANIEL MUSSELWHITE JEWELLERY  features sterling silver petals with 9ct yellow gold stamens. A small cluster of different sized cherry blossom flowers hang together beautifully on a silver snake chain. 1cm (10mm) across on a 40 or 45cm sterling silver snake chain. The largest blossom flower is approximately 1.5cm across and the smallest is 9mm. (£170 plus delivery)

 

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Finally, this large ‘Cherry Blossom’ Pure Silk Scarf by Wonderland Boutique has a pale apricot normal_large-cherry-blossom-pure-silk-scarfbackground and it comes beautifully gift wrapped in pink tissue paper in a pink bag with a silk ribbon. L180cm x W115cm. (ÂŁ39 plus delivery)