Over 20 activities highlighting a major historic and cultural landmark on the ancient Silk Road were unveiled at the opening ceremony of Culture Cities of East Asia 2021 on April 9 in Dunhuang, northwest China’s Gansu Province. The opening ceremony was part of a year-round cultural exchange initiative between China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
With “Dunhuang, a towering edifice of human culture” as its theme, Culture Cities of East Asia 2021 aims to promote international and people-to-people exchanges, boosting cultural development and prosperity of East Asia.
“East Asia Capital of Culture is an important measure to implement the consensus reached at the trilateral leaders’ meeting and has become a flagship brand for cultural exchanges among the three countries,” said Zhang Xu, Chinese Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism at the opening ceremony.
In 2020, Shaoxing and Dunhuang in China, Kitakyushu in Japan, and Sunchon in the ROK were designated as the Culture Cities of East Asia 2021.
Gansu will work with other culture cities of East Asia, upholding the spirit of “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit” to promote regional development as well as world peace, said Gansu Vice Governor He Wei.
Four exhibitions, including the China-Japan-ROK Dunhuang Cultural Exchange Exhibition, will showcase replicas of traditional Dunhuang mural art, as well as high-tech exhibits like 3D-printed sculptures and high-fidelity digital murals.
Foreign officials from the Consulate General of Japan and ROK in China delivered speeches at the ceremony. They expressed hope that Culture Cities of East Asia 2021 will help promote cultural exchanges in East Asia.
Dunhuang played a key role in the history of the Silk Road and deeply influenced East Asian culture and history. The Temple of the Flourishing Law (Hōryū-ji), a Buddhist temple in Japan’s Nara Prefecture, was adorned with Buddhist murals styled after the Dunhuang murals in China. There are also poems in the Dunhuang manuscripts describing the visit of a prince from Silla named Kim Gyo-gak, who became interested in Buddhism when visiting China during the Tang Dynasty.
Dunhuang art has been exhibited in Japan and the ROK many times since the 1950s. The three nations have maintained exchanges and cooperation in cultural relic protection technology and talent training.