How To Host a Japanese-Themed Fundraiser

Hosting a Japanese-themed fundraiser will create an unforgettable and enchanting experience for your guests that embraces the beautiful culture and history of this country. Incorporating Japanese traditions and aesthetics can create a captivating atmosphere for your event. Here are some creative ideas to help you organize a Japanese-themed fundraiser filled with engaging activities, decor, and contests.

Decor and Atmosphere

Japanese decor represents simplicity, elegance, and harmony with nature. Balancing these elements can help you create a truly memorable Japanese-themed event.

Traditional Japanese Entrance: Torii Gates

Start by setting the scene right at the entrance of your event. Construct a Torii gate, a traditional Japanese gate that is found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine. This structure symbolizes the transition from the mundane to the sacred.

Learn more about our check-in and check-out services that help your fundraiser run smoothly and make it easier for guests to pay for auction items and other purchases at your event.

Have greeters dressed in Japanese attire welcome guests as they enter your event.

Japanese greeters

Lanterns and Origami Decor

Use Japanese paper lanterns to create the ambiance of Japanese streets and festivals. Walls filled with colorful origami flowers also adds a special touch to your event. These walls make great photo opportunities for your guests. Encourage them to take photos in front of these beautiful backdrops and post them on social media.  Ask them to tag your event, which will give you exposure to new potential supporters.

Zen Gardens and Bonsai

Create a Zen Garden to have as a main display at your event. These gardens are known for their tranquility. Pair them with Bonsai trees and bamboo plants to add a special touch to the decor.

Japanese-Inspired Lounge Area

Arrange a cozy futon lounge area for guests to relax, chat and take photos. Add some of the other décor mentioned in the blog as accent pieces throughout the lounge area.

Kimono and Yukata Display

One way to bring more color and authenticity to your event is by showcasing traditional Japanese attire. Create a display area with kimonos or yukatas draped over stands, exhibiting these traditional garments’ intricate patterns and craftsmanship.

Japanese Parasols

Japanese parasols are known for their elegance and delicate construction. They could be used to create ceiling hangings or standalone displays, adding an authentic and visually pleasing element to your decor.

Japanese Wall Scrolls

Wall scrolls with Japanese calligraphy or paintings can enhance the ambiance. These can be used to adorn the walls of your venue, conveying depth and a touch of Japanese aesthetics.

Shoji Screens

Traditional Japanese shoji screens can be used as dividers or backdrops for your event space. These screens, made of translucent paper in a wooden frame, can provide a sense of warmth and serenity to the environment.

Here are some other décor ideas:

Table Decor

Table decor plays a vital role in setting your event’s overall aesthetic and ambiance. Here are some Japanese-themed table decor ideas for your fundraiser:

Bamboo Place Mats

A simple and elegant way to bring the Japanese touch to your table decor is by using bamboo placemats. They add a natural, minimalist, and earthy feel to the setup.

Origami Centerpieces

Purchase, ask volunteers to create, or ask local artists to donate origami décor centerpieces for each table. The designs could be traditional cranes or intricate flowers.

Bonsai Trees

Small bonsai trees can serve as beautiful living centerpieces. They symbolize harmony and balance and are often found in Japanese homes and gardens.

Traditional Tableware

Using traditional Japanese tableware can elevate the authenticity of your decor. Consider lacquerware or ceramics, chopstick rests, and sake cups. Sushi serving plates or bamboo sushi mats will also add a unique touch.

Zen Gardens

Miniature Zen gardens, placed in the center of each table, can serve as a unique and interactive decoration. They usually consist of sand, stones, and a miniature rake which guests can use to create patterns in the sand, promoting mindfulness and relaxation.

Japanese Lanterns

Small Japanese paper lanterns or lantern-style candle holders can give soft, warm lighting to each table, enhancing the cozy and welcoming ambiance.

Floral Arrangements

Ikebana Centerpiece

Orchids make stunning, elegant, and beautiful centerpieces for Japanese-themed table decor. Their delicate form and vibrant colors represent a sense of harmony and serenity often associated with Japanese aesthetics.

Consider arrangements with Cymbidium or Dendrobium orchids. They are native to Japan and are traditionally used in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Ikebana arrangements are more than decorations. They’re a form of artistic expression, which make each table unique.

Place these beautiful blooms in simple, earthenware vases or bamboo containers to maintain a natural and minimalist aesthetic. You could even weave in a few sprigs of bamboo or ferns for a lush, green contrast.

Here are some other table décor ideas:

Calligraphy Place Cards

Consider placing cards for each guest written in Japanese calligraphy for a personalized touch. You can use their names in Katakana, one of the Japanese writing systems often used for non-Japanese words.

Food and Drinks

Sushi Stations and Ramen Bar

Sushi Stations and Ramen Bar
Chef making sushi in the bar close up

Hire local sushi chefs to prepare fresh sushi at live stations or arrange a Ramen bar with customizable ingredients. Don’t forget vegetarian and vegan options.  

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Include a tea station where guests can experience a simplified version of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where they can savor Matcha tea served in traditional ceramics.

Sake Tasting

For drinks, provide a range of Japanese sakes for tasting. Also, consider offering other popular beverages like Japanese whiskey or a range of flavored soju for those who prefer something stronger.

Sake Tasting
Pouring sake into sipping ceramic bowl.

Silent Auction And Raffle Ticket Areas

Don’t overlook creating eye-catching décor in your silent auction and raffle ticket areas. This will create a wonderful ambiance for guests to browse the silent auction items and purchase their raffle tickets.

Fundraiser Games and Contests

Fundraiser games and contest are a great way to add extra profits to your fundraiser.  Guests love to participate because they add fun, excitement, and competition to your event. 

Kimono Contest

Organize a costume contest where attendees can showcase their most creative Kimonos. Guests pay to enter the contest. Award prizes for the 3 best Kimonos.

Origami Contest

Organize an origami-making contest. Set up a station with origami paper and instructions for various designs. Participants must pay to enter. Award prizes to the participant who designs the most creative origami or to the first participant who successfully complete the task.

Here are instructions to make a Japanese crane origami:

Origami Contest
Origami paper crane. Instructions for assembly

Here’s how to make a Japanese origami butterfly:

Origami Contest
Origami art. Making yellow paper butterfly step by step, photo collage on light blue background

Chopstick Challenge

In this game, participants compete to pick up and move as many small objects (like marbles or beans) as possible from one bowl to another within a set time limit using only chopsticks. You can have an entry fee to participate, and the winner receives a prize.

Sake or Japanese Tea Tasting

Guests can donate to participate in a sake or Japanese tea-tasting event. They will sample a selection of beverages and vote on their favorites.

Sake or Japanese Tea Tasting


Sumo Wrestling

Sumo Wrestling

One of the most unique and exciting ways to infuse authentic Japanese culture into your fundraiser is to hire professional Sumo wrestlers for live entertainment. Sumo wrestling is not just a sport in Japan. It is a centuries-old cultural tradition that is a ritual and embodies respect. By bringing in Sumo wrestlers, guests will have a rare opportunity to watch this awe-inspiring sport up close. They’ll witness the dynamic techniques, powerful strength, and intricate rituals that precede each match, such as the ceremonial salt throwing to purify the ring.

Taiko Drum Performance

Taiko Drum Performance

Invite a local Taiko group to perform. The thunderous rhythms of these traditional drums will be great entertainment for your guests.

Kendo or Aikido Display

Kendo or Aikido Display

Aikido Martial Arts

Aikido Martial Arts

Kendo Martial Arts

Arranging for a local martial arts school to perform a Kendo or Aikido demonstration can add an exciting dynamic to the event.

Traditional Dance and Music

Include traditional music and dance like Kabuki, Noh, or Bon Odori. The colorful costumes and mesmerizing performances will make the event truly memorable.

Kabuki Dancer

Kabuki Dancer

Noh Dancer

Noh Dancer

Bon Odori Dancers

Bon Odori Dancers

By following the tips outlined in this blog and incorporating creative decor ideas and engaging Japanese-themed games and contest, you can create an enchanting event that leaves a lasting impression on all your guests.

For more fundraiser theme ideas, download our fundraiser theme ideas e-book.