Renowned graphic designer Michael Beirut discusses the design of currency. The Japanese Yen seems to score some high marks, as opposed to the “inelegant and clumsy” design of recent US currency. He writes:
Japan’s banknotes begin with the same basic ingredients as western currency. But these elements come together in a way that suggests contemplative minimalism. The images help: the ¥5000 note features 19th century female novelist Ichiyo Higuchi on the front, and a field of irises on the reverse. The result is elegant and restrained.
For those of us familiar with the design Beirut doesn’t contribute anything new, but I do think he succinctly sums it up pretty well.