TOKYO (CBS SF) — The Japanese industrial designer responsible for the iconic red-capped soy sauce dispenser among other designs and logos died on Sunday.
Kenji Ekuan died of a heart rhythm disorder at a Tokyo hospital, the Mainichi Shimbun Daily reported. He was 85.
He founded GK Industrial Design Associates, which later became GK Design Group, and in 1961 designed a soy sauce dispenser for Kikkoman Corp. which became ubiquitous around the world. Kikkoman’s U.S.A. headquarters is in San Francisco, and the company manufactures soy sauce in Folsom.
The Tokyo native was also behind the distinctive shape of the “Komachi” high-speed trains running on the Akita Shinkansen Line, and the Narita Express connecting Narita airport with Tokyo. He also designed motorcycles for Yamaha Motor Co.
Ekuan said he wanted to design the bottle because he remembered his mother having to pour soy sauce from a large half-gallon bottle into a small tabletop dispenser when he was a child, the Associated Press reported.
Ekuan became a Buddhist monk at a Hiroshima temple to succeed his father, who died due to radiation from the atomic bombing. But he eventually pursued his career in design. He graduated from the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1955.
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