Kyoto, capital of Japan for more than thousand years, is a unique spot to watch autumn foliage. Spread across the city and its forested, mountainous outskirts are hundreds of temples and shrines, many of which 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. If you go in the second half of November, however, 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.
Kyoto has a unique nostalgic air and distinct little-town feel that seems to contradict its size and population of almost 1.5 million. More than a dozen of its historic structures are acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city tries to protect these spots through strict building regulations that preserve the city’s prevailing low-rise skyline.