The Latest: Michelle Obama wears dress by Japan-born Shoji

Obamas Host Japan's PM Abe and First Lady for State Dinner
Obamas Host Japan's PM Abe and First Lady for State Dinner

7:35 p.m. (EDT)

First lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to the nation of honor at Tuesday's White House state dinner by wearing a gown by Japanese-born designer Tadashi Shoji.

Sleeveless, with an empire waist and floor-grazing chiffon pleats, the rich purple gown was at once regal and airy. The first lady's hair was pinned back, revealing delicate applique details on the dress bodice.

Mrs. Obama wore a long-sleeved floral frock from the Los Angeles-based designer earlier in the day as well for a visit to a Virginia elementary school with Akie Abe, wife of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Obama also chose a Shoji dress earlier this month for an appearance on "The Tonight Show."

Shoji's designs have also been worn by such Hollywood stars as Kate Beckinsale and Katy Perry. Both Mo'Nique and Octavia Spencer wore gowns by the designer when they won their Academy Awards.


7:25 p.m. (EDT)

Even at Tuesday's state dinner at the White House, the unrest in Baltimore was an issue.

One guest was Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred. Asked about the decision to postpone Tuesday's game between the White Sox and the Orioles at Baltimore's Camden Yards, he said, "We made a decision based on safety concerns " after consulting with both teams.


7:10 p.m. (EDT)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has arrived at the White House for a state dinner in his country's honor.

Abe and his wife, Akie, stepped out their black, chauffeured vehicle and walked up a red carpet that was laid out on the White House steps.

They were greeted - again - by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

After some handshakes, cheek kisses and posing for the news media, the couples entered the White House to spend a few minutes upstairs in the Obamas' private residence before coming back down for dinner.


7:05 p.m. (EDT)

The big question before the White House state dinner honoring Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan: How are your chopstick skills?

Shonda Rhimes, creator of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," waggled her hand uncertainly.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was unequivocal when asked the same question. "Fantastic," he said.


6:55 p.m. (EDT)

Outgoing White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard breezed through the guest arrival area at Tuesday's state dinner at the White House, exuding an all-business air.

Asked if he was feeling nostalgic about overseeing his last state dinner, Bernard said that would come later. "I will get nostalgic probably around 11 o'clock," he said.

Bernard's deputy is replacing him as social secretary as he moves on.


6:45 p.m. (EDT)

The first guests to arrive at Tuesday's White House state dinner were Hawaii Gov. David Ige and his wife, Dawn. "I probably had to travel the farthest to get here," he laughed.

Asked about his chopstick skills before the Japan-themed feast, Ige said, "I'm really good at chopsticks." His wife said they'd be willing to help out anyone needing pointers.


6:15 p.m. (EDT)

Members of Congress are fixtures at White House state dinners, but few issue statements to announce they've accepted the coveted invitation.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, did just that Tuesday to point out that she's attending the dinner and, the following morning, escorting Japanese Prime Minister Abe into the House chamber to deliver his address to a joint meeting of Congress. Hirono said she was honored to do both.

"I was born in Japan and lived there until I was nearly eight years old," she said. "Our countries have much to offer one another and we must focus on continuing our enduring relationship and strengthening that relationship to meet our shared challenges."

Hirono is the first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She was born in Fukushima, Japan.


5:10 p.m. (EDT)

The guest list is out for Tuesday night's state dinner, and the notable names include "Star Trek" luminary George Takei.

Other big names who made the cut for the big White House dinner include Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind the hit television shows "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," and Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Also on the list is Japanese fashion designer Chitose Abe.

The Hollywood star quotient is low for this dinner.


4:50 p.m. (EDT)

Before Tuesday night's big White House dinner for Japan's prime minister, there was lunch to think about.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a State Department luncheon featuring food by Eric Ziebold, former chef of the acclaimed Washington restaurant CityZen.

The menu included poached Carolina white shrimp and Chesapeake Bay rockfish chowder.

And everyone got red, white and blue M&Ms with pictures of the U.S. and Japanese flags on them.

Abe joked at lunch that he wants to make sure he doesn't overdo the drinking at dinner because he has to speak before a joint session of Congress Wednesday.