“Mama, are there real crocodiles here?” my 7-year-old asks, more curious than concerned.

Her question is perhaps not that far-fetched, given the dreamlike landscape that surrounds us. Ears are pricked by a layered soundtrack of tinkles and pings; sparkling grid-like lines slice tree canopies above our heads; calligraphic brush strokes float across a nearby wooden facade; and a rainbow spectrum of lights bounce off the surface of a pond.

And standing tall above it all, imprinted into the night sky, is the five-tiered form of a wooden pagoda sitting at the heart of a centuries-old temple in Kyoto where this scene — a playful balance of futuristic and historic — is unfolding (admittedly minus any live crocodiles).