Kyoto has hundreds of temple and shrine gardens spread out across the city, making it Japan’s most popular location to watch autumn foliage.
During fall these places will show some striking colors (see my favorites on Google Maps). Depending on the weather and the situation, intensity and progress of the colors will vary greatly. The best time to go is generally the second half of November. You get to see plenty of crimson-colored maple leaves (momiji) for sure then. For more details when planning your itinerary, just check out the autumn color reports from japan-guide.com.
Small Town Feel
Kyoto would be worth a visit even off foliage season. The former Japanese capital, commonly seen as the nation’s cultural heart, boasts a multitude of historic structures, many of which are acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Kyoto’s historic quarters have a distinct small town feel, hiding the fact that the place hosts a population of almost 1.5 million on a whole. It is the city’s low-rise skyline that comes into play here. New development projects are subject to strict height limits, helping preserve Kyoto’s largely traditional appearance.