Tokyo's Christmas 'cherry blossoms' lit by used cooking oil

VIDEO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A classic symbol of Japan with a dirty twist.

These cherry blossom lights are strung up along this Tokyo street for the holidays.

In the spring, its a popular spot to see the real thing, and for the Christmas season it's transformed into an LED wonderland.

But it's how these lights are powered that make this view all the more impressive.

"We collect used cooking oil and purify it into biodiesel fuels, and then put it into the power generator that lights up the LED lights," said organiser Hajime Narita.

Local restaurants and neighbourhood residents supply the old oil, used to fuel the over 420,000 lights along the path.

Each year, organisers salvage around 5,400 litres of cooking oil to keep the flowers lit.

"I was touched when I first saw the city lit up by our used oil," said local restaurant owner Taisuke Miyahara.

The project, called "illumination for all", is marking its 7th year, tracing back to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster when the country went dark from power shortages.

Now it's become a display that locals look forward to every year.

"I think it's great that they take waste products and make them in to something beautiful," said businessman Makoto Kinoshita, who was walking through the area with his girlfriend.