The White House Spring fling: Naomi Biden and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi lead the glamorous arrivals as Joe and Jill roll out the red carpet for state dinner with Japan

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • Spring is the theme of Wednesday night’s state dinner
  • Business leaders, celebrities and Biden family in attendance 
  • Jill Biden picked decor and menu to compliment the season 

Robert DeNiro, Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, and Bill and Hillary Clinton top the guest list for President Joe and Jill Biden’s state dinner for the Japanese prime minister.

The famous faces will join members of the Biden clan in toasting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko. The Bidens’ daughter Ashley and her husband are attending as are grandchildren Naomi, her husband Peter and sister Finnegan.

Naomi Biden was among the first arrivals, wearing a flowing and flowery by designer Bernadette. The gown was adorned with what appeared to be cherry blossoms. 

Sanchez wore a red Rasario gown corset off-shoulder lace and satin gown that retails for $2,200.

Former Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi came through, noting this was not her first state dinner. Other guests include business leader Apple CEO Tim Cook and Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Naomi Biden and Peter Neal at the White House state dinner

Lauren Sanchez and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrive for the state dinner

Lauren Sanchez and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrive for the state dinner

Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi arrives at the White House

Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi arrives at the White House

The Bidens transformed  the White House into a spring garden – complete with a koi pond and floating lily pads – for the event.

Legendary singer Paul Simon will perform for guests after their meal of home cured salmon, rib eye steak and salted caramel pistachio cake with cherry ice cream.

The ice cream is in honor of President Biden. It’s his favorite dessert. There will be West Coast wines on the table for Kishida, who’s known to have a high tolerance for alcohol. 

State Dinner Menu 

First Course

House-cured Salmon

Avocados, Red Grapefruit, Watermelon Radish, Cucumber

Shisho Leaf Fritters

Main Course

Dry-aged Rib Eye Steak

Blistered Shishito Pepper Butter

Fricassée of Fava Beans, Morels and Cipollini

Sesame Oil Sabayon

Dessert

Salted Caramel Pistachio Cake

Matcha Ganache

Cherry Ice Cream

Raspberry Drizzle

Wine

Lingua Franca Bunker Hill Chardonnay 2021, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Long Shadow Pirouette 2019, Columbia Valley, Washington

Argyle Vintage Brut Rosé 2020, Willamette Valley, Oregon

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The celebration began early. Kishida and his wife Yuko stopped by the White House on Tuesday evening for an informal greeting from the Bidens.

Then the two couples went out to dinner in Washington D.C. at Blacksalt Restaurant, which is known for its seafood.

The real magic happened on Wednesday night. When the 230 guests entered the state floor of the White House, they walked on a floor covered in the illusion of a koi pond with floating lily pads adorned with cherry blossoms.  

Event designer Bryan Rafanelli, who also planned Naomi Biden’s White House wedding, came in to help with decor. He came up with idea for the koi pond (although there will be no live fish present).

The illusion of a pond will cover the 80-foot crosshall that connects the East Room, where guests will dine, to the State Dining Room, where Paul Simon will peform. 

‘It’s beautiful reflective interior photographic,’ he said of his design. ‘So you really do feel the sensitivity and then in the scale of the room, it will come alive.’

Colorful hydrangeas are along the walls. On the dinner tables are arrangements of hydrangeas, sweet peas, and peonies. Silk and glass butterflies will sit among the place sittings.

Some tables have a green china that is from George W. Bush’s presidency while others have a flower-patterned china from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s era. 

The inspiration for the evening was spring in both nations, White House Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo noted. 

‘The magic of spring in our lasting friendship. Each detail chosen to create a once in a lifetime experience,’ he noted. 

The process of planning a state dinner takes months. Staff gather a few months before the actual date to give the first lady options on decor and food. She makes final decisions.

The food was inspired by the spring season. 

Lauren Sanchez, attending with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wore a red Rasario gown corset off-shoulder lace and satin gown that retails for $2,200

Lauren Sanchez, attending with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wore a red Rasario gown corset off-shoulder lace and satin gown that retails for $2,200

US ice dancers Alex Hideo Shibutani and his sister Maia Harumi Shibutani

US ice dancers Alex Hideo Shibutani and his sister Maia Harumi Shibutani 

The Bidens welcomed the Kishidas to the White House in a formal ceremony

The Bidens welcomed the Kishidas to the White House in a formal ceremony 

The first course dish of House-cured Salmon, avocados, red Grapefruit, watermelon radish, cucumber shisho leaf fritters

Main course dish of dry-aged rib eye steak, blistered shishito pepper butter, fricassee of fava beans, morels and cipollini Sesame oil sabayon

Dessert course of salted caramel pistachio cake, matcha ganache and cherry ice cream with raspberry drizzle

The first course dish of House-cured Salmon, avocados, red Grapefruit, watermelon radish, cucumber shisho leaf fritters (left), main course dish of dry-aged rib eye steak, blistered shishito pepper butter, fricassee of fava beans, morels and cipollini Sesame oil sabayon (center), dessert course of salted caramel pistachio cake, matcha ganache and cherry ice cream with raspberry drizzle (right)

On the dinner tables are arrangements of hydrangeas, sweet peas, and peonies

On the dinner tables are arrangements of hydrangeas, sweet peas, and peonies

US First Lady Jill Biden (2L) and Spouse of Japan's Prime Minister Yuko Kishida (L) meet with school children

US First Lady Jill Biden (2L) and Spouse of Japan’s Prime Minister Yuko Kishida (L) meet with school children

Gift Exchange

As the official gift President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden presented Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a three-legged table that was handmade by a Japanese American owned company in Pennsylvania. The 17-inch table was crafted from American black walnut wood – one of the most precious woods native to North America – and will include a plaque to commemorate the Official Visit.

President Biden gifted Prime Minister Kishida a custom framed lithograph and a two-volume LP set, both of which were autographed by iconic American musical artist Billy Joel. Biden also gave him a vintage vinyl record collection of great American music artists in a custom leather presentation box.

Jill Biden gave Yuko Kishida a framed painting of the Yoshino cherry tree that she planted with Mrs. Kishida on the South Lawn last spring.

She also gave her an autographed soccer ball that was signed by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the Japanese Women’s National Football Team before the United States and Japan played in the SheBelieves Cup semifinal match in Atlanta, Georgia, last weekend.

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The salad course of salmon, which was cured at the White House, avocados, red grapefruit, watermelon radish, and cucumber was inspired by the California Spring Roll. 

The beef in the second course is from Maryland and the mushrooms are seasonal. Dessert inspired by cherry blossoms in bloom in both countries.

Kishida is the fifth state guest of Biden, who has also hosted leaders of India, Australia, South Korea and France.

Biden is hosting Kishida for the first state visit by a Japanese leader in nine years. 

A state dinner is the highest honor the United States can give an ally. 

The economy and security issues – including countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region – topped their the agenda.  

Biden met with Kishida inside the Oval Office in one of many gestures of support for the partner on defense and economic issues. The U.S. and China share mutual concern about Chinese provocations in Asia, even amid a split over Nippon Steel’s proposed purchase of U.S. Steel.

‘You personally have made all of this possible,’ Biden gushed after running through examples of Kishida’s ‘bold leadership.’

On Thursday, Kishida is scheduled to deliver a speech at a joint meeting of Congress. 

The prime minister and his wife arrived in the U.S. on Monday evening. On Tuesday Kishida visited Arlington National Cemetery and met with Microsoft officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Kishida on Friday will tour new Toyota and Honda plants in North Carolina to highlight Japan’s economic importance as the largest foreign investor in the United States. He will also meet students at North Carolina State University.

The Lyndon B. Johnson china

The George W. Bush china

 The Lyndon B. Johnson china (left) and the George W. Bush china (right) will be used at the state dinner on Wednesday night

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan meet in the Oval Office shortly after an elaborate arrival ceremony for his official visit to Washington

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan meet in the Oval Office shortly after an elaborate arrival ceremony for his official visit to Washington

Yuko Kishida, her husband Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wave from the Truman Balcony

Yuko Kishida, her husband Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wave from the Truman Balcony

On Wednesday, during their meeting, Biden lauded Kishida on Ukraine at a time he is struggling to get his own multi-billion aide package through the Republican House.

‘When Russia began his brutal invasion of Ukraine two years ago, he did not hesitate to condemn, sanction and isolate Russia and provide billions in assistance to Ukraine,’ Biden said.

‘Under his leadership, Japan set in motion profound changes in his defense policy and its capabilities,’ in reference to Japan’s U.S.-drafted constitution that renounces war. 

Since the Russian invasion of its neighbor, Kishida has repeatedly warned that ‘Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.’ 

Vladimir Putin’s move sparked fear in Japan that without a strong response, it could embolden China to attack Taiwan and lead to war in the Asia-Pacific region. 

If Russia prevails, ‘it would show that force can actually bring benefits, even when breaking international law. If so, what would happen to East Asia? We must not allow any country to receive the wrong message,’ Kishida told The Washington Post at his official residence in Tokyo ahead of the visit.

Tokyo has been one of the largest donors to Kyiv since Russia’s February 2022 invasion. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and his wife Kishida Yuko to the White House on Tuesday for an informal greeting

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and his wife Kishida Yuko to the White House on Tuesday for an informal greeting

During his visit, the prime minister will emphasize that Japan and the U.S. are now global partners working to maintain a rules-based international order, and that Japan is willing to take on a greater international role in security, economy and space to help Washington. 

Kishida lived in New York for three years as a child. Before becoming prime minister, he served as foreign minister, where he helped bring world leaders to Hiroshima for the G7 summit to discuss nuclear disarmament.

He loves baseball and is known to have a high tolerance for alcohol. 

Both he and Biden are fighting to keep their jobs. Biden faces a rematch with Republican rival Donald Trump in November. 

And Kishida’s approval ratings hit record lows amid a political scandal involving his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and political fundraising.

Kishida and Biden also confirmed Japan’s participation in NASA’s Artemis moon program and the contribution of a moon rover developed by Toyota Motor Corp. 

A Japanese astronaut will join the program and be the first non-American to land on the moon. The rover, which comes at a roughly $2 billion cost, is the most expensive contribution to the mission by a non-U.S. partner to date, a U.S. official said told the AP.

Thursday will see the first trilateral summit between Biden, Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Defense issues will top the agenda as both Japan and the Philippines worry about Beijing’s moves toward territory they claim in the South China Sea, which China claims almost in its entirety.

Kishida will discuss how Chinese coast guard ships regularly approach disputed Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands near Taiwan. 

And Marcos Jr. is worried about the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef that is contested in the Spratly Islands. 

The Chinese coastguard has used water cannons to prevent the Philippines from resupplying marines stationed on the Sierra Madre, a rusting ship that Manila intentionally grounded on the reef in 1999 to reinforce its claims in the region.

Japan has sold coastal radars to the Philippines and is negotiating a defense agreement that would allow their troops to visit each other’s territory for joint military exercises.

Guest list for White House state dinner for Japan

The following is a complete list of expected guests:

THE PRESIDENT AND DR. BIDEN

HIS EXCELLENCY KISHIDA FUMIO, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN & MRS. KISHIDA YUKO

Mr. Akiba Takeo, National Security Advisor

Mr. Arima Yutaka, Director-General, North-American Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Ayase

Mr. Ajay Banga & Mrs. Ritu Banga

The Honorable John Bass, Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State & Ms. Audrey Hsieh

The Honorable Stephen K. Benjamin, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement & Miss Jordan Grace Benjamin

The Honorable Anthony R. Bernal, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the First Lady & Mr. Brian Mosteller

Mr. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sánchez

Ms. Ashley Biden & Dr. Howard Krein

Ms. Finnegan Biden

Ms. Naomi Biden Neal & Mr. Peter Neal

The Honorable Richard T. Bissen, Jr., Mayor of Maui County, Hawaii & Mrs. Isabella Bissen

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State & The Honorable Evan M. Ryan, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary

Mr. Neil Bluhm & Ms. Leslie Bluhm

Mr. Brent Booker & Dr. Katherine Booker

General Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Defense & Mrs. Sharene Brown

The Honorable Bill Burns, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency & Ms. Sarah Burns

The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State & The Honorable Lael Brainard, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States & The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th Secretary of State of the United States

The Honorable David Cohen, Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency & Ms. Suzy Friedman Cohen

Mr. Tim Cook & Ms. Lisa Jackson

The Honorable Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina & Mrs. Kristin Cooper

The Honorable Diana DeGette, U.S. Representative & The Honorable Lino Lipinsky de Orlov

Mr. Robert De Niro & Ms. Tiffany Chen

Mr. James Dimon & Mrs. Judy Dimon

Mr. Michael C. Donilon & Mrs. Patricia Donilon

Ms. Ilana Emanuel

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel, Ambassador of the United States to Japan & Ms. Amy Rule

Mr. Zachariah Emanuel

The Honorable Tony Evers, Governor of Wisconsin & Mrs. Kathy Evers

Mr. Fred Eychaner & Mr. Danny Leung

Mr. Shawn Fain & Mrs. Stella Fain

The Honorable Jon Finer, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor &

Ms. TJ Fadel

Mr. Laurence Fink

Mr. Bill Freeman & Mr. Tom Loftis

Dr. Funabashi Yoichi

Mr. Funakoshi Takehiro, Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ms. Susie Gelman & Mr. Michael Gelman

Ms. Xochitl Gonzalez & Mr. Daniel Lubrano

Mr. Robert Goodman & Ms. Jayne Lipman

The Honorable Philip Gordon, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United States & The Honorable Rebecca Lissner, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President

Admiral Chris Grady, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Defense & Mrs. Christine Grady

The Honorable Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy & Mr. Daniel Mulhern

Mr. Jon Gray & Mrs. Mindy Gray

Mr. Rene Haas

The Honorable Avril D. Haines, Director of National Intelligence & Mr. David Davighi

The Honorable Bill Hagerty, U.S. Senator & Mrs. Chrissy Hagerty

The Honorable Bruce Harrell, Mayor of Seattle, Washington & Mrs. Joanne Harrell

The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, Vice President of the United States & Mr. Douglas C. Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States

The Honorable Mazie Hirono, U.S. Senator & Mr. Leighton Kim Oshima

The Honorable Amos Hochstein, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Energy and Investment, National Security Council & Mrs. Rae Ringel

The Honorable Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York & Mr. William Hochul

Mr. Hosaka Shin, Vice Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Mr. Hoshide Akihiko

Mr. Amos Hostetter & Mrs. Barbara Hostetter

Mr. Iijima Isao, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Ms. Ikuta Lilas

Mrs. Amabel B. James & Mr. Ryan Petersen

The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives & Mrs. Kennisandra Jeffries

Her Excellency Kamikawa Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Katahira Satoshi

Mr. Katanozaka Shinya

Mr. Tony Kawai

Mr. Kobayashi Ken

Mr. Arvind Krishna & Mrs. Sonia Krishna

The Honorable Daniel J. Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State & Mrs. Nami Kritenbrink

Mr. Kunieda Shingo

Ms. Megan Myungwon Lee & Mr. Jeff Werner

The Honorable Mark Macarro, Tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians & Mrs. Holly Macarro

Mr. Maeda Tadashi

Ms. Judy Marks & Mr. Chris Kearney

The Honorable Doris Matsui, U.S. Representative & Mr. Roger Sant

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security & Mrs. Tanya Mayorkas

Mr. David McCall & Mrs. Donna McCall

Mr. Sanjay Mehrotra & Mrs. Sangeeta Mehrotra

The Honorable Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator & Ms. Brynne Merkley

Mr. Mikitani Hiroshi

His Excellency Moriyama Masahito, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Mr. Murai Hideki, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

Ms. Ellen Nakashima & Mr. Alan Sipress

Ms. Mira Nakashima & Mr. Jonathan Yarnall

Ms. Niki Nakayama & Ms. Carole Iida-Nakayama

The Honorable Bill Nelson, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration & Mrs. Grace Nelson

Mr. Niinami Takeshi

Ms. Kelly O’Donnell & Mr. J. David Ake

Dr. Okina Yuri

Mr. Ono Keiichi, Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Otsuru Tetsuya, Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister

The Honorable Thomas E. Perez, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs & Ms. Ann Marie Staudenmaier

The Honorable John D. Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation & Ms. Mae Podesta

The Honorable Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States & Mrs. Elissa Leonard

The Honorable Natalie H. Quillian, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff & Mr. Ryan Quillian

The Honorable Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce & Mr. Andy Moffit

The Honorable Mira Rapp-Hooper, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania, National Security Council & Mr. Matthew Brest

The Honorable Bruce N. Reed, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff & Ms. Bonnie LePard

Mrs. Lynda Resnick & Mr. Stewart Resnick

The Honorable Steve Ricchetti, Assistant to the President and Counselor to the President & Mrs. Amy Ricchetti

Ms. Cecile Richards & Mr. Kirk Adams

Mr. Robert Roche & Mrs. Ritsuko Hattori Roche

Mr. Josh Rogin & Mrs. Ali Rogin

Mr. Ethan Rosenzweig, Acting Chief of Protocol, U.S. Department of State

Mr. Michael J. Sacks & Mrs. Cari Sacks

His Excellency Saito Ken, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry

Mr. Sawada Jun

Mr. Serizawa Kiyoshi, Vice Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Defense

The Honorable Josh Shapiro, Governor of Pennsylvania & Mrs. Lori Shapiro

Mr. Alex Hideo Shibutani

Ms. Maia Harumi Shibutani

Mr. Shikata Noriyuki, Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs

Mr. Shimada Takashi, Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Brad Smith & Mr. Gregory Smith

Mr. Masayoshi Son

Mr. Robert Michael Stavis & Mrs. Amy Stavis

The Honorable Jake J. Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs & Ms. Maggie Goodlander

The Honorable Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative & Mr. Robert Skidmore

The Honorable Mark Takano, U.S. Representative & Mr. Glen Fukushima

The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations & Mr. Lafayette Greenfield, II

The Honorable Jill Tokuda, U.S. Representative & Ms. Susan Morita

Ms. Maria D. Toler & Ms. Casey Albert

The Honorable Annie Tomasini, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff & Mr. Ray Tomasini

Ms. Ueno Yukiko

The Honorable Pranay Vaddi, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation, National Security Council & Mrs. Megan Vaddi

The Honorable Richard Verma, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, U.S. Department of State & Ms. Zoe Verma

The Honorable Lorraine A. Voles, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President & Ms. Ruby Smith

Mr. Kent Walker & Ms. Diana Walsh

Mr. Mark Walter & Mrs. Kimbra Walter

The Honorable Steven Westly & Mrs. Anita Yu Westly

Mr. Eugene Woods & Ms. Lauren Wooden

His Excellency Yamada Shigeo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States

Ms. Kristi Yamaguchi & Ms. Yukiko Saegusa

Mr. Yamamoto Takayoshi, Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister of Japan

The Honorable Janet L. Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Treasury & The Honorable Adewale Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Treasury

Mr. David Zapolsky & Ms. Lynn Hubbard

The Honorable Jeff Zients, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the President & Mrs. Mary Zients

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