When it comes to lanterns, East Asian artists attending a cultural event in east China's Quanzhou City find them a common cultural symbol of Asia, but bearing unique characteristics.
Friday is China's Lantern Festival, which traditionally features outdoor celebrations by the light of hanging lanterns. It marks the end of the half-month lunar New Year celebrations.
As the host city of the first East Asian City of Culture event, Quanzhou, Fujian Province, has decorated main streets and cultural venues with more than 600 Chinese flower-shaped festive lanterns, Japanese-style Odawara cylinder-shaped lanterns and Korean lanterns with painted designs.
Wu Zuxiang, a lantern-making craftsman in Quanzhou, made a 20-meter-long lantern, in which lamplights can project flowing visual images.
Park Sun Jung, chief planner of the East Asian Culture City Promotion Committee of the Republic of Korea (ROK), said the lunar festival is also celebrated in the ROK, although it only involves family gatherings rather than hanging lanterns for outdoor celebrations.
Quanzhou is one of the most important export ports along the maritime Silk Road. Silk and porcelain products started to be shipped to regions as far as east Africa more than 2,000 years ago.
At a meeting in Gwangju City, ROK, in September, cultural ministers from the three countries nominated Quanzhou, Yokohama, a Japanese historical city and Gwangju as East Asian culture cities.
The three cities will take turns to host cultural and arts exchange programs from this year.
As the host city this year, Quanzhou will organize more than 100 art shows and cultural activities over the next eight months.
Yokohama and Gwangju are also ports with over 2,000 years of history.
Risa Aizawa, leader of Japanese female group Dempagumi.inc, was interested in Quanzhou's Buddhist temples. She said compared to Japanese temples, Quanzhou's are brighter and carry more Indian Buddhist elements.
The musical group attended an evening gala on Thursday in Quanzhou.
Seo Young, head of the S.Y Dance Company in ROK, also attended and said dancing arts in the three countries have a lot in common, in terms of movement and expression.
Gong Wanquan, deputy head of the Quanzhou Committee of the East Asian Cultural City, said in addition to the cultural and artistic performance, the three cities would also carry out cooperation and exchanges in fields like intangible cultural heritage protection.
On Friday, information and tourist officials from the three cities signed a memorandum of understanding to organize more tourism promotions in each other cities.