Maybe the Japanese do it right too, but I haven't been to Japan. We recently came back from a little vacation in Germany and Italy and the first thing that struck me was the many levels of beauty everywhere.
People definitely pay close attention to detail and maybe its partly my Indian (British influenced) upbringing, but I did appreciate the little windows with lace and flower boxes :). Flowers were sold everywhere and people bought them with a dedication that was very inspiring!
People have an innate sense of color that is apparent in the way they dress, how they decorate their buildings and environment. It was so soothing to see green fields broken by yellow fields of mustard, instead of ugly billboards like here in the States.
There was a lot of uniformity everywhere (especially in the red roofs), but the uniformity was aesthetically pleasing. Again in sharp contrast to the many uniform, character-less homes in the States. I was wondering what exactly made the homes in Europe so beautiful as homes in the States that try to bring back some of those features just look fake. I think it maybe that you need to internalize an influence and not just blindly import it into a different environment. For example the Spanish style facades look so ridiculous in LA, but lovely in Spain! They just need to fit more organically with the LA environment!
Another surprising thing was that there were some inventions and features that I hadn't seen in America before. It was surprising because I assumed all first world countries were pretty similiar due to the active back and forth flow of goods and ideas. So I was very surprised to see the tilt-turn windows.
and a little teapot with a hole at the spout. This prevented the tea from dripping down the teapot. Totally ingenious! I wish I had taken a picture.
Lesson: Pay attention to detail, beauty and color. It makes life so much richer!