Kyoto, Heal Thyself

The city synonymous with green is struggling to live up to the environmental agreement that bears its name

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / WPN for TIME

The gate of Yasaka Shrine, at the end of busy Shijo Street, in the geisha district of Gion, Kyoto, Japan.

Visit the temples that grace the hills of Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, and it's not hard to see why the city seems like the perfect birthplace for the global-warming pact that was named for it. At the end of my trip last November, I toured the grounds of Nanzenji, a Buddhist complex that sprawls through the wooded slopes to the east of the city, and watched red and gold leaves fall upon a rock garden, where they were swept up by monks. Kyoto's temples show how humans can live in nature and actually add to it, not just take from it.

Then I caught...

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