At least on the engineering/technical front, Japan has a way with developing new, innovative technologies ahead of the game. But that doesn't mean the rest of the world can't be inspired by their concepts.
One interesting idea on that solar side is Kyocera's Eco-Shell, a multi-purpose shelter that uses a solar-power generating system for the roofing material and energy-conserving LEDs for lighting. The concept is intended for use in public places where shelters provide cover against the sun and rain such as bus and taxi stops, benches, and walkway coverings.
Renewable power is becoming increasingly important across Japan as energy reduction countermeasures are starting to be made in earnest due to the effects of the March earthquake and resulting nuclear power situation. Environmental awareness in urban planning has also been receiving a lot of attention. The electricity generated from the shelter's solar-power generating system can be used for surrounding electrical needs, such as lighting for advertising displays, with excess power being sold to the power utility companies, thus helping to meet expected power shortages in Japan during the summer. Furthermore, the shelter's low-energy LED lighting helps reduce both power consumption and CO2 emissions at night.
Moreover, the shelters can be used as emergency power supplies in the event of a disaster, as the shelter has an independent power outlet that could be used to charge mobile phones or other vital electronics.