The city, capital of Japan for more than thousand years, is a unique spot to watch autumn foliage. Kyoto has in fact hundreds of temples and shrines spread across the city and its forested, mountainous outskirts. Many of these spots feature gardens that are carefully maintained (see my favs on Google Maps).
Intensity and progress of the autumn colors may, of course, vary widely, depending on the weather. Anyway, if you go in the second half of November, you should see some crimson-colored maple leaves (momiji) for sure. A great resource for planning an itinerary are the autumn color reports from japan-guide.com.
In many ways, Kyoto has a distinct little-town feel, somehow cutting across its size and population of almost 1.5 million. More than a dozen historic structures such as temples and shrines are acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In order to protect these landscapes, the authorities have put strict building regulations in place, preserving the city’s prevailing low-rise skyline.