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What better time or place to throw a party than in the spring at our apartment in Kyoto?  We had friends CA friends visiting Kyoto for a few days, my more-than-able-son-in-law visiting and several Kyoto friends we were eager to see again. At the suggestion of a friend, we easily decided on a party.  We even have a ceramic party dog whose always ready for the next shindig.


Japanese ceramic party dog

My husband and I have a pretty good division of labor for this kind of event. Basically, he prepares the food, and I prepare the decor.  We’ve worked this arrangement out over 50 years of marriage and it’s still working, although the days when everything my husband cooked was made from scratch have shifted slightly towards the ready-made as long as the quality meets his high standards! Kyoto makes this sort of entertaining easy and fun.

For several days before we host a party, we both discuss the food plan and arrive at a mutual agreement on where we’re headed.  Finger food?  Drinks? etc.  On the day of, or one day before, we begin to really concentrate and gather our non perishables.  Here in Kyoto, the land of small dishes, we needed small plates.  After a brief search in department stores, we located the perfect ones to serve a crowd at the local 100Y store.  We’d gotten some wonderful serving platters and dishes of Shigaraki ceramics when we initially moved in a few years ago.  We ended using every dish we had. Dollar store plates mingles easily with the plates of a contemporary Japanese ceramicist.

our Shigaraki dishes

On the morning of, we parted company early in the day.  My son-in-law and husband shopped for food and sake and I happily shopped for flowers and paper napkins that would be springlike, but not cloying. While they brought home beautiful fruits, veggies, sushi, smoked salmon and local rice crackers, I brought in the Japanese magnolia blossoms and the sweet peas.  

The men covered our dining room table with the bounty found in our local food emporium and I filled the small spaces with  my interpretation of Japanese flower arrangements.  We all were pretty pleased with our efforts when the guests arrived.


Our spread.

Our grandchildren greeted our guests. Their parents have trained them well.  They dressed up in their Japanese finery and mingled for a while, then retreated to watching tv in our bedroom, leading a few friends to note how charming they are.  The only minor failure was my purchase at the 100Y store of tea lights.  Half of them burned out in the first 10 minutes after being lit.  Note to self.


Our friends from here and our friends from home mixed happily and ate most of the food.  We were blessed to spent a few warm and comfortable hours just being happy to be together in this place and this time and to salute the arrival of spring in Japan.



Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • devapnek says:

    Yes, they joined us. Cherry blossoms ha ve just started to bloom!

  • Sheri Overall says:

    Hi Dianne ~~ WOW! You do know how to throw a party!! Were Jim and Colette there? If you¹ve seen them I¹m wondering how their trip has shaped up. I think their timing for the cherry blossoms was excellent. Xo Sheri

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Love love love the dog! >

  • Colette says:

    Thanks for including us! Enjoyed being part of this delightful gathering (once we got the right day and found the right building)!! I think we’re back on track now. Thanks again for a fun evening.
    Colette & Jim.

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