Kenji Ekuan

Soy sauce bottle designer Kenji Ekuan dies aged 85

News: Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan, whose work ranged from the Komachi bullet train to the Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser, has died aged 85.

Ekuan died on Saturday in a Tokyo hospital a result of a heart rhythm disorder, his company GK Industrial Design Group confirmed today.

The former Buddhist monk created the soy sauce dispenser for Japanese company Kikkoman in 1961. The curvaceous glass bottle, bold lettering and red cap became ubiquitous as Asian food gained popularity across the world.

More than 300 million of the dispensers have been sold worldwide and the design is included in the collection at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Kenji Ekuan's Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle
Kenji Ekuan's Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle

Ekuan also designed the Komachi bullet train, which connects Tokyo with northern Japan at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. His other well-known projects include the Yamaha VMAX motorbike and the Narita Express airport train.

Born in Tokyo in 1929, Ekuan became a monk at a Hiroshima temple after his father was killed by radiation from the 1945 nuclear bomb attack on the city.

After leaving the monastery to study design, he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1955 and established his own studio two years later.

Last year Ekuan received Italy's Compasso d'Oro award for lifetime achievement – one of the world's highest accolades for an industrial designer.