The official birthday is December 23, but the party took place a month earlier to avoid the holiday rush and also to greet the new consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, Jun Niimi.
The Los Angeles consulate oversees the second largest community of Japanese-Americans in the United States, extending from Southern California into Arizona and numbering some 270,000 people. The largest is in Hawaii.
Tray after tray of sushi appeared, along with delicious miso-marinated cod on lettuce leaves (at right), cups of Japanese sweet potato, spoonfuls of marinated fish and fish layered on top of hot rice.
Waiters circulated with drinks to make sure everyone had a glass for the toast. And the feast continued even when the party began to thin out. It was royal hospitality, on a royal occasion.