Kyoto is famous for its hundreds of temples and shrines, spread across the city and its forested, mountainous outskirts (see my favs on Google Maps). Most of them have carefully arranged and maintained gardens, giving the city a unique appearance during fall.
Depending on the weather and the situation, intensity and progress of the colors vary greatly. The best time to go is the second half of November. You will get to see plenty of crimson-colored maple leaves (momiji) then for sure. For more details when planning your itinerary, just head over to japan-guide.com and check out their comprehensive autumn color reports.
The former Japanese capital evokes a strong air of nostalgia for me. Its rank as the nation’s cultural heart becomes evident in its wealth of historic structures, many of them acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Outside its central business district, Kyoto actually feels a bit like a small town, hiding the fact that it hosts a population of almost 1.5 million. I guess, it is the city’s decidedly low-rise skyline that comes into play here. New development projects are subject to strict height limits. This certainly did a lot for preserving the rather traditional appearance of this place.