KYOTO — First-time visitors to the ancient capital of Kyoto usually arrive expecting to see quiet temples and rock gardens or an abundance of old wooden buildings set against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains.

Those things exist, of course. But decades of rampant urban development means the visitor must stroll through the ancient temples while mentally blocking out the tall modern buildings that surround them or squint past the flashing neon signs of modern downtown Kyoto in order to clearly see the mountainsides.

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