A light showin Beijing directed by lighting designer Motoko Ishii kicked off optimistic discussions at the Japanese Embassy on Saturday.

Admiring the computer-generated images were about 200 guests involved in Japan-China relations. Many expressed hope that cultural exchanges will help mend ties between Japan and China that have been strained by the ongoing dispute over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

China, which claims the islands as Diaoyu, was angered when the Japanese government bought three of the five main islets in the group from their private owner, a Saitama Prefecture businessman, in September, effectively nationalizing the chain. The move sparked riots and demonstrations across China toward the end of last year.

The lighting event, initially scheduled for last September to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the countries, was shelved due to the protests.