The former Imperial Capital is more historic and better preserved than Tokyo, thanks to not being heavily bombed in WW2, and makes a great base to explore the region.
The huge, modern railway station in the heart of the city is a sight in itself, almost like a self contained city with hotels, museums, restaurants and lots of shops. This is a familiar sight in the big Japanese cities, with railway stations functioning as city squares would elsewhere in the world, as large scale social spaces, just with added trains.
A short bus ride from the city brings you to what mostly closely resembles the lair of a villain from a Bond movie, built into the mountainside. It is home to an extraordinary collection of items celebrated primarily for their beauty rather than historical context, housed in some stunning architecture.
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
This is beautiful and looks historic, but was actually rebuilt in 1955, after the original, far less golden, Pavilion was burnt down by a fanatic monk. Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima is a fascinating read if you want to find out more.