Persian Culture Enthusiast and Dessert Designer :
I consider myself a samurai of Persian art and culture. I have inherited my grandfather's spirit and sacred duty to help revive the Persian heritage, celebrate and transmit it. My grandfather, Rahim Anavian, was among the first collectors, around half a century ago, to introduce prehistoric Persian fine art to Japan - to private collectors and almost all of the major museums.
Shortly after I graduated high school, I was hired as a traveling correspondent for an NHK TV program "The Romantic Journey of The Silk Road". Through this program I became aware of the similarities between the traditions of Japan and Ancient Persia. Their deep historical ties go back 1500 years, during an era when the Silk Road flourished.
When times changed and Iran lapsed into a dark age, where the art and culture of this glorious civilization was being obliterated from public consumption, there ensued a devastating eight-year war between Iran and Iraq. As a result, many Iranians .escaped the dire situation at home, seeking employment in the thriving "bubble economy" of urban Japan. Although a small percentage integrated into normal daily life here, the majority descended into the seedy underworld of drug peddling, forgery, theft and even homicide.
Instead of pursuing my familial penchant for presenting the glories of Persian culture, I found myself in gray police departments, prosecutors' offices, and immigration bureaus, translating for Iranians in police custody accused of the above crimes and more.
I was devoted to continue the legacy passed on from my grandfather – a career, even a life, steeped in the research, presentation and trade of his amazing collection of artifacts, some dating back seven centuries.
The sorry Japanese economy, however, seriously curtailed the purchase of our treasures. Art and culture almost always suffers in financial hard times. Thus, I suddenly found myself immersed in a dreary soap opera, in the very bowels and front line of the Japanese judicial system.
My part-time job as an interpreter at the court warped into a life-consuming full-time albatross for over ten years. The glory of Persia, as I had inherited it from my family, looked bleak in the cold, dreary, smoke-infested interrogation rooms at police stations.
Although the job was fascinating in a lurid sense and paid well, it diverted my attention and time away from my true passion. The milieu of cops and robbers is no place for a culture samurai. As I extricated myself from the legal limbo, I began to deliver brief explanations about Persia anywhere I could, just to initiate some momentum back into art, culture and refinement.
I began by accompanying my mother, a professional santour player and lecturer of Osaka College of Music, to her concerts. The santour is an ancient Persian musical instrument, which is also introduced in this website in the Pouri Anavian section. There, I opened the program by presenting insights into the forgotten history, culture and music of Persia.
Working as a team, we invited top-level Iranian musicians to perform with my mother as part of our cultural programs. Our task of procuring visas for our visiting artists was tedious and frustrating because, as illustrated above, Iranians have a shattered reputation in Japan. With the cooperation of the Friends of N.I.C.E. (check out Persian Cultural Activity on this website), though, we were able to land our guests every time.
For the majority of those interested, academic lectures about Persia need to be supplemented with galas, concerts, dinners and, no surprise here, sweets!
Many Japanese natives conceive of the landscape of Iran to be nothing but desert, chockablock with camels. They are also surprised that the seasons change in other countries, especially in the Middle East. Iran is lush, green and bright, like some parts of Japan.
With this in mind, I concocted a lavish four-layer pudding, each stage representing a season: saffron for spring, mint for summer, chocolate for autumn and vanilla for winter. This original Dalia Dessert is called 'The Persian Four Seasons'.
It sold very well in the Japan Airlines Hotel in Ibaraki and was featured in an article with a large photo in the culture section of The Sankei Newspaper.
I think it is as stimulating and productive now as it must have been 1,500 years ago to share great art with people-not least the art of cuisine.
Resume' of Dalia Anavian, Sweets'Aesthete and Persian Culture Promo-Domo
Born in Tehran
To Japan with Family (1972)
Graduated from Canadian Academy (1986)
French Fashion Academy (1987)
Co-Host of (NHK's) Silk Road: The Romantic Journey (1988)
Co-Host of ABC's 'Journey of Harmony' Radio Program (1989)
Owner of Anavian Gallery: Persian Fine Art Collection, Property of Grandfather, Advisor to
National Museum of Iran in Tehran
Persian-Japanese Interpreter at police departments, immigration offices, detention centers
and court trials (1995 –2005)
Cultural and Historical Lectures on Iran and Israel (2001-Present)
Persian Cuisine Cooking Classes/Persian Music-Dinner Evenings (2001-Present)
Born in Tehran, Iran to an Israeli father and Iranian mother, the multi-talented Dalia
Anavian moved to Japan with her parents at the age of four. After a well-rounded education at the international Canadian Academy in Kobe, she attended the French Fashion Academy in Manhattan, N.Y.
Lady Luck was smiling on Dalia upon her return to Japan when she was chosen to co- host NHK's "Silk Road: The Romantic Journey", a highly successful 24-part television series. The following year she co-hosted the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation's JCB- sponsored "Journey of Harmony" radio program.
In 1989 she created Anavian Gallery: Persian Fine Art Collection in the Miyako Hotel in Osaka, showcasing a stunning array of Persian artifacts: carpets, crafts, shawls and ceramics. This veritable treasure chest was the property of her illustrious grandfather, a celebrated art expert and advisor to The National Museum of Iran in Tehran. The gallery was the source for The Persian Shawl Pavilion in The Asia Museum in Tottori.
Simultaneously, Dalia served the international community in Japan (predominantly, victims of the long Iran-Iraq confrontation) for a decade (1995-2005) as an interpreter at police departments, immigration offices, detention centers and court trials. She also volunteered to translate for Afghani and Kurdish refugees in the Kansai Region.
Beginning in 2001 and continuing today, Dalia has been proud to present lectures on the culture and history of her native Iran as well as Israel, where she spent 2005 studying Hebrew and investigating the fascinating Holy Land; offer Persian cuisine cooking classes and produce Persian music and dinner evenings.
Her original Persian Four Seasons dessert, a heavenly concoction featuring saffron, vanilla, chocolate and mint, has been sold at the JAL Hotel in Ibaraki.
1001:Magical Bites: Persian Hospitality, Recipes and Stories. 2013
Author: Dalia Anavian