Design: Japan Is On The Go

Its new architecture and graphics lead the world

Japanese style? Japan is all about aesthetic discipline and refinement: it is a tidy place where ordinary buildings are Zen compositions, where cities fit together as ingeniously as a GoBot, a place where restraint and respect for tradition (rock gardens, ikebana, interior space denominated in tatami mats) come naturally, where advertising aspires to art, where even the landscape seems well designed.

Japanese style? Japan is a wild hodgepodge of gimcracky downtowns and kitschy international design ideas mixed and mismatched, its capital a shrill, Blade Runner mess of traffic, shabby office buildings and meretricious Architectural Statements. Consumer products are bland or bizarre,...