Kyoto is a beautiful and ancient city. It was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years until the late 19th century, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Kyoto is where you want to go if your passion is to walk narrow streets, look into numerous ancient temples and get the feeling for Japanese life as it used to be.
November brings fantastic leaf colors to much of Japan, and I think to Kyoto in particular. The colors as I walked around the old temples were just mindboggling.
The best way to get around Kyoto is on your own two feet. You get to experience so much more of the city that way. If you need to get somewhere fast, though, you should take the subway. The subway system is very tourist-friendly. All signs and announcements are in both Japanese and English. Ticket vending machines, which operate on the same principle as in Tokyo, also offer some limited help in English. There is a bus network as well, but I can't really say much about it.
Kyoto offers so many attractions, that you should allocate 2 days at the very minimum. It is also close to the ancient city of Nara (see separate entry), and it is possible to take a full- or a half-day bus tour. Here are some of the sights in Kyoto that I strongly recommend (because I went there!):
- Nijo Castle
- Kyoto Imperial Palace
- Nanzenji Temple
That's all I was able to do in Kyoto. There's tons more to see, however. Look for a good guide book or map to help you truly explore this remarkable city.
Kyoto is about 2 to 2.5 hours from Tokyo by bullet train.