A foreigner's first contact with a Japanese city (usually Tokyo the main port of entry, or Osaka) often occasions something of a shock. S/he has heard of course of the exquisite aesthetic sensibilities of the Japanese, but what s/he sees appears to be a congested, disorganized mass. Streets are often narrow and twisting, it seems to be impossible to locate addresses since most streets do not have names. Everywhere is festooned with overhead cables and plastered with sign-boards and each building, even if itself well designed, appears to bear no relationship to the others around it. Irregularity, fragmention and a complete lack of planning seem
to be the norm. And yet there is a curious uniformity, both physical and, apparently, sociological. All areas of all cities look much the same, except for the variation between residential, commercial and industrial districts, but even there the lines of demarcation are not clear and different urban functions are often mixed up in the same area. Although in fact distinct areas do exist, superficially at least it is hard to tell them physically apart. There is little of the clear social and physical demarcation of districts that characterizes cities such as London or Boston.