The long history enriched the most sophisticated Japanese traditional culture in most of the fields. Tea ceremony, Zen, kabuki, dance, traditional music, crafts, pottery, gilt, lacquer, etc.etc.
There are so many beautiful temples, shrine, gardens, rivers, ponds, including needless to say Kiyomizu-temple and Kinkakuji (Golden pagoda), rock gardens. It is believed that there are more than 10000 temples in Kyoto.
Japan has two big distinctive cultural centers. Tokyo, current capital since 19th century, is the contemporary cultural center, such as broadcasting, media, in addition to political, business, merchandize, commercial, industrial capital. To experience modern Japan, visitors should experience life in Tokyo.
However, because of the rich historical background, Kyoto may provide extra ordinal depth of spiritual culture, the heart of Japanese culture.
Kyoto is a traditional city, however, it is known that Kyoto is also a very liberal city. They keep tradition at one hand but also they accept new ideas. As an example, visitors to Kyoto may be overwhelmed to see massive construction of Kyoto railway station building in such a traditional ancient city… The spirit is reflecting in Science in Japan as seen the most of the Japanese Nobel laureates in scientific fields came from people related to Kyoto.
Kyoto is the center of Japanese spiritual culture.
Kinkakuji, ginkakuji and higashi honganji are 3 of the most beautiful Japanese temples. Kyoto is generally considered to be a better mix of old Japan and modern Japan. Luckily the Americans were smart enough to rethink their original plan of nuking the city.
People from Kyoto speak a form of Kansai Ben (dialect) and the women are considerably less attractive than Tokyo-women, or Osaka women ;)