A favorite theme of some journalists commenting on Japan today is how Japanese innovation is nearly dead. However, while the country's global brands may not pack the punch they used to, there's no shortage of transformative ideas in Japan, particularly in the field of design. This year's Good Design Awards showcased many surprising examples of innovation from Japan and abroad.

Sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP), the Good Design Awards have been celebrating excellence in design since 1957. It's known for its crimson G Mark logo, which promoters call a sign of quality and which winners consider a badge of honor. In an introduction to the latest awards, JDP President Atsushi Oi says rising numbers of entries from China and other Asian states shows the importance of design to economic growth.

More than 4,700 entries were submitted to the 2018 awards, and 86 judges in Japan and overseas chose 1,353 of them to receive Good Design Awards. Out of that bunch, more selections were made, including the Best 100 and the Good Design Grand Award, which will be announced Oct. 31. This year, the awards introduced four Good Focus categories related to themes including new business and disaster recovery.