A look at the White House state dinner for Japan in photos


A spring-themed menu inspired by American and Japanese cuisine and decor evocative of a koi pond are all features of Wednesday night’s White House state dinner honoring Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden are recognizing the long alliance between the United States and Japan with the rare, time-honored tradition of a state dinner that draws from the traditions of both countries. 

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon, who counts both the first lady and the prime minister as fans, will be performing. 

The theme and decor 

The theme is “celebration of spring,” a symbol meant to mirror the friendship between the two countries. A garden displays blooms native to both nations, including sweet peas, peonies and hydrangeas. Glass and silk butterflies appear on the dinner tables, too. 

The starring element of the decor for the dinner is the floor, covered to make it appear as if guests are walking over a koi pond with lily pads and cherry blossoms. The colors green, blue and pink are central to the theme — green to represent the growth of friendship, blue to represent stability and security and pink to represent spring’s essence. 

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Glass butterflies decorate the dinner table during a preview at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, for the State Dinner for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday.

Susan Walsh / AP


The menu

The food is the center of any good state dinner. According to the White House, guests will be served a first course of house-cured salmon; a salad of avocados, red grapefruit, watermelon radish and cucumber; and shiso leaf fritters.

Dry-aged rib eye steak with blistered shishito pepper butter, fava beans, morels and cipollini will be the main course, with a sesame oil sabayon. 

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White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison, right, hold the dishes to be served during a press preview at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, for the State Dinner for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday.

Susan Walsh / AP


Dessert includes salted caramel pistachio cake, a matcha ganache; and ice cream — cherry ice cream, with raspberry drizzle. 

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Samples of the desert are passed out during a press preview at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, for the State Dinner for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday.

Susan Walsh / AP


The evening’s wines are from Oregon and Washington. 



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