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By Sadeq Dehqan and Hamideh Hosseini

Renowned Japanese pianist Etsuko Hirose, who is in Iran to perform some concerts during Japan Cultural Week (January 22 to 28) has said that she has found commonalities and closeness with Iranian people and is content over such closeness.

The Japanese pianist, who currently resides in Paris, learned to play piano when she was three years old. She could play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 26, K537 along with an orchestra.

Hirose won the first prize for young pianist at the International Competition Frédéric François Chopin in Moscow and third prize in ARD International Music Competition in Munich as well as the first prize in Martha Argerich International Piano Competition in Buenos Aires in 1999.

She experienced her first orchestra performance with NHK Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit in 2001. She also worked with several world symphonies, namely Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Argentine National Symphony Orchestra, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra.

Excerpts of the interview follow:


 How well do you know Iran and its music?

ETSUKO HIROSE: I am here in Iran for the first time. Although I do not know Persian language and your musical preference, I could have a very close relationship with Iranian people. In addition, music is an international language and is able to link people of different countries and languages. I am content over such closeness with the Iranian people.


How many performances have been arranged for you in Iran? How satisfied are you with your performances?

Actually, I had two performances for Japan Cultural Week in Tehran and one in Isfahan. In my opinion, the performances were successful and I could communicate with the audience which was clear from their applause and concentration on my works. As you know, performing concert is a mutual program between the performer and audience. Of course, before the concert, I had visited Iran for a short time which helped me a lot in communicating well with the Iranian people.


What are your favorite musical pieces? What is your style in playing piano?

I have worked on romantic pieces. Two issues are of high significance in my performances: The first is the purpose of the program's producer and the second is the kind of message they can convey. I do my best in playing piano and try to put all my feelings into the performance.


How are the works of Eastern and Western pianists different?

Many years ago, the difference between Japanese and Western pianists was very palpable. The difference was due to several issues. At present, all musical boundaries are unclear and one might even find a lot of similarities in the music of two cultures.

As I have learned playing piano in France, my style is inevitably like French pianists.


Please tell us briefly about your performance. On the stage, while you were playing, you breathed deeply at intervals and you also used head and hand movements. Does it have a dramatic aspect or is there any other reason?

I believe that a music player is like a lecturer with rising and falling tones which are very important for his or her words. Although piano is an instrument, I maintain that the very basis of music is voice. While playing the piano, I try to be like a singer who sings a piece.


How did you select the pieces that you performed in Iran?

In fact, I intended to show the high capabilities of the piano in performing the pieces using several themes and subjects. Accordingly, I used Beethoven's 'Moonlight' which is about nature and environment. I believe that music is not just to convey human feelings but rather the nature's feeling. I used Mily Balakirev's 'Islamey' out of respect for Islam.


Are you satisfied with your current position in playing the piano?

I don't think I've achieved the pinnacle of my ability yet. Usually, pianists reach that point in their 40s or 50s. I do my best to develop my performances.


What are your programs after the performance in Iran?

I will return to France after the concerts in Iran. I will have five concerts in a music festival in France and after that I will go for programs in the US and Japan.

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All visitors to Iran must hold a passport valid for 6 months. The visa stamp fee is roughly 55.00 EUR for the passport.

You will need to obtain a reference number, which is similar to a letter of invitation, in order to apply for a visa to Iran.  To get a reference number you will need to contact a travel agency in Iran and fill out an application form which includes questions about the purpose and duration of your planned stay, where you will to visit while in Iran, date of previous visit to Iran (if any), your occupation, and which embassy or consulate you plan to pick up your visa from. It will take the agency you have applied for a visa through approximately 7 to 10 days to get you a reference number. This number must be presented to the Iranian Embassy or consulate to receive the visa to Iran.

 Please note that women must have their hair covered in their application photo.

The nationals of the following countries can receive a Visa on Arrival – although we advise you to obtain a visa before arrival for your own convenience, as sometimes VOAs may not be granted.








Czech Republic












Russian Federation





Saudi Arabia









New Zealand

Slovak (Rep.)


Bosnia Herzegovina


North Korea






South Korea





























Please note that processing a VOA will take around 30 to 45 minutes. You will need the number of a tour guide, the hotel you are staying at or person you are staying with handy because immigration will need to call and confirm your address before issuing your visa.

VOAs are not suitable for anyone who wishes to stay in Iran longer than two weeks.


Warning: Visitors not holding return/onward ticket could be denied entry.

Visa on arrival will not be granted to the nationals of the following countries:
















Please note that American, British and Canadian passport holders need to be accompanied by a guide while in Iran. These nationalities must discuss and devise an itinerary with a tour operator.


The nationals of the following countries do not need a visa as they have a visa-free regime with Iran.













In the event of overstaying your visa, you will be required to pay a roughly 7 USD penalty and a 10 USD fine for each day you have overstayed. This penalty must be paid at the Immigration and Visa Affairs Office; however, on holidays you can pay this fine at the airport.

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Iran hosts first International Travel and Hospitality Conference as government seeks to boost investment in infrastructure for tourism
February 26, 2016 Conferences No Comments Print Print Email Email
More than 200 Iranian government officials gathered in Isfahan between 20-22 February for the country’s first international conference aiming at public-private exchange to boost investment in transport and hospitality to satisfy an expected massive rise in tourism over the coming years.

“As Iran seeks to lower its economic dependence on oil, exploiting the incredible potential of tourism becomes a must,” said Ahmad Reza Nikkar Esfahani, CEO of Atiyeh Saba Investment Company, a subsidiary of the Civil Servants Pension Fund (CSPF), organizer of the conference. “This conference is a new chapter in training and upgrading the tourism, transportation and hospitality industries,” he added.

Atiyeh Saba owns the third largest Iranian airline, Iran Aseman Airlines and, among other business interests, has a controlling stake in the country’s largest hotel chain as well as the National Iranian Tanker Company, one of the largest petroleum companies in the world.
Deals announced at the conference included a memorandum of understanding between the renowned Swiss hospitality school Ecole hotelière de Lausanne and Atiyeh Saba to open a campus affiliated to the famous Swiss school in Isfahan.

Mahmoud Eslamiyan, Managing Director of the CSPF said that: “Opening what we aim to be a center of excellence demonstrates our commitment to provide a first-class academic education and open a new chapter in the hospitality industry not only in Iran but also in the region.”

Rotana Hotel group’s President Omer Z. Kaddouri presented further development plans in Iran. The UAE-based company is set to open four hotels in Iran within next two years.

Opportunities to develop sustainable inner-city and outer-city transports were also discussed at the conference, including plans for hybrid car systems. Isfahan’s Governor General Rasoul Zargarpour noted that an anticipated high-speed rail link between Tehran and Isfahan would cut travel time between the cities to less than two hours.

With the thaw in relations, the number of European tourists to Iran increased 240 percent in 2015 and with the country’s inclusion on recent “must visit” shortlists (coming in 16th on the CNN’s top tourism destinations for 2016 for instance) the trend is set to continue. Host to 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Iran aims to quadruple the number of foreign tourists visiting the country to 20 million a year by 2025, bringing the value of the industry to £21 billion. For this though, significant investments are needed in infrastructure, notably hotels and transport. Currently, Iran has only 1100 hotels and guest houses – of which 130 are 4 or 5 star hotels. Iran seeks to increase the number of four and five star hotels from 130 to 400 in 10 years, and has announced plans to build 7 new international airports over the next decade.

Over the last month, Iran has signed major deals for foreign investment in hotels, airports, aircraft and rail – notably with companies in France, Italy and China. The government has also unveiled an internal investment package of 1300 projects and low-interest loans to finance the building of hotels.



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