Japanese designer of soy sauce bottle, Kenji Ekuan, dies aged 85

This picture, taken on June 3, 2004, shows Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan in Tokyo. Ekuan, who is responsible for creating the classic soy-sauce bottle, died in a Tokyo hospital aged 85. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture, taken on June 3, 2004, shows Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan in Tokyo. Ekuan, who is responsible for creating the classic soy-sauce bottle, died in a Tokyo hospital aged 85. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - The Japanese designer responsible for both the classic soy sauce bottle and the train connecting Tokyo to its major international airport has died, his company said Monday.

Kenji Ekuan, who was 85, was the brains behind the sauce dispenser first used by Kikkoman in Japan in 1961.

The upside-down funnel shape with a red cap was subsequently exported around the globe and became visual shorthand for soy sauce as the craze for Japanese food swept abroad.

Ekuan, who was also a Buddhist monk, was credited with numerous corporate logos during Japan's industrial boom era, as well as creating the look of Yamaha's VMAX motorcycles and the Narita Express train that ferries passengers to and from Tokyo's main international gateway.

A former president of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, and a recipient of the council's Colin King Grand Prix, Ekuan was also made officier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France and awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan.

The company he founded, GK Design Group, said he died on Sunday after suffering from sinus problems.