From samurai to gothic Lolitas, Japan has captured the imagination of the Western world. It certainly makes for a fun theme for a teenager's birthday party. If your teen is interested in Japan, ask her what direction she wants to take with the party. She might be looking for something upscale or fun, but still be able to incorporate the theme into the night.
Japan is an eclectic nation; a Japanese theme can take a variety of directions. One person might think of a kitchy Hello Kitty-themed party, with cutesy food and throwback-to-childhood games. Another person might think along the lines of a favorite anime character such as Naruto or Cowboy Bebop. Simply using traditional Japan as a jumping off place -- perhaps with cherry blossoms and exquisitely presented food and decor -- could create an elegant party for a teenager who's done with kid stuff.
If you're going to throw a Japanese-themed party, you'll want to serve Japanese-themed food. Sushi is a natural choice and you might find a restaurant willing to cater, if you're not able to do it on your own. Though it's getting more popular, some teens might not be able to stomach raw fish and seaweed. If you think your guests aren't adventurous in the food department, serve up "sushi" made from puffed rice cereal and gummy fish. Ramen could be an interesting alternative choice. Serve guests a bowl of ramen, but allow them to add their own toppings. Common ramen toppings in Japan include thinly sliced pork, green onion, tempura, corn and Chinese cabbage. Japanese snacks, such as norimaki -- seaweed-wrapped rice crackers -- and panda-shaped cookies filled with chocolate are bound to be a hit.
Japense Movie Marathon
Whether in the background or as the focal point of a slumber party, showing Japanese movies can bring the theme together. Consider classic movies such as Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" or "Kagemusha" or more recent favorites such as Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" or "Ponyo." Anime favorites such as "Sailor Moon" or "Full Metal Panic" might be more to your taste. Show them in their original Japanese language with the subtitles turned on.
Other Japanese Activities
Other Japanese activities might fit in well with your party if you don't think your guests will be into the movies. For example, you could set out paper and instructions for guests to make their own origami objects. Many party supply stores have karaoke machines for rent and your guests might enjoy the chance to strut their stuff. If you have more money to spend, rent a Japanese photo booth -- purikura -- which allows guests to decorate the photos they take.