Japanese Prime Minister Kishida shows off his omotenashi skills

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida shows off his omotenashi skills

Prime ministers have always extended the highest level of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality, to a visiting U.S. president because of the special relationship between Japan and the United States.

A tea ceremony, a demonstration of traditional horseback archery and a night out at a traditional pub has been included in the recent past.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gets the chance to show off his omotenashi skills as he prepares for the first visit to Japan by President Joe Biden.

Kishida is facing a time constraint because Biden will arrive in Japan on May 22, the next day Kishida will have to develop a closer relationship with the president.

There is a meeting of the so-called Quad nations that includes Australia and India on May 24 before Biden leaves Japan.

The visit of the visiting U.S. president has not only strengthened the bilateral relationship in the past, but the photo opportunities also allow the Japanese leader to present the relationship to the Japanese public.

That factor is important for Kishida because of the summer's Upper House election and because it will be about seven months since he became prime minister to hold a face-to-face meeting with Biden.

Kishida had earlier arranged a meeting with Biden, but the novel coronaviruses and the Omicron variant made overseas trips difficult for both sides.

Kishida initially wanted to offer Biden okonomiyaki Japanese pancakes that are a personal favorite and because it is a symbolic cuisine of Hiroshima Prefecture, which he represents.

Security concerns led to the decision not to use an okonomiyaki restaurant as the site for dinner between Kishida and Biden.

The Happo-en restaurant in the Shiroganedai district is known for its Japanese garden, and will be the venue for the dinner on May 23.

Japanese officials are not sure what preferences the U.S. president has for Japanese cuisine. Biden is known for favoring food of the common folk, such as ice cream and pasta, but officials are still baffled as to what should be included in the menu for the dinner reception.

Past prime ministers have solidified the Japan-U. A personal friendship with the U.S. president is part of the relationship between the S. and the U.S.

The late Yasuhiro Nakasone invited visiting U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy to his villa in 1983 in western outskirts of the capital.

Nakasone even made tea for the Reagans in the traditional tea ceremony style and blew on a conch shell.

That led to the two leaders calling each other Ron and Yasu as they formed a strong alliance during the Cold War, even as bilateral trade issues were making headlines.

Junichiro Koizumi, who was known as a maverick, went his own way when George W. Bush visited Japan in 2002.

Before their formal summit, Koizumi took Bush to Meiji Shrine for a display of yabusame, in which archers in warrior attire fire arrows at a target while full galloping.

Instead of a formal state dinner, Koizumi also treated Bush and his wife, Laura, to what legions of Japanese salaried workers do after working hours. They dined in an izakaya Japanese pub.