The next time you sit down to enjoy a meal in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, or perhaps this very evening when you open your kitchen cupboard at home, be sure to give your red-capped bottle of soy sauce a tiny salute. The designer of the now-iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, Kenji Ekuan, has died at the age of 85.

Mr Ekuan, who the Guardian reports died last weekend due to a heart problem, said he was inspired to design the shapely, easy-pour bottle after recalling his mother struggling to decant soy sauce from an enormous two-litre bottle at home when he was a child.

The slender, red-capped bottle first appeared on shop shelves in Japan back in the 1960s and quickly became a common sight in restaurants all over the world, made even more popular when Japanese food became all the rage and, with it, Kikkoman a household name. To this day, the bottle’s design remains much unchanged, and whenever we’re in need of a drop of soy sauce for our dumplings or to cheekily splash on bland fried rice, we instinctively look for that red plastic top.

e259_01JR East

But Ekuan wasn’t only responsible for the world’s most famous soy sauce bottle. As well as once being a Buddhist monk like his father before him, he received numerous international awards during his lifetime for his designs, which ranged from the sleek lines of Yamaha’s VMAX range of motorcycles to the design for the stylish Narita Express train which shuttles travellers to and from Japan’s largest international airport. He also went on to found the GK Design Group, which today creates cutting-edge designs for everything from home electronics to jet-skis and snowmobiles.

Red caps off to a very talented man. We’re sure he will be missed.

Source: Japan Today, BBC News
Featured Image: Wikipedia Commons