Japanese designer Kenji Ekuan, best known for Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, dies at 85

The industrial designer whose works ranged from a bullet train to the red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser as familiar as the classic Coca-Cola bottle, has died. Kenji Ekuan was 85.

A monk-turned-industrial designer, Ekuan crafted a tabletop bottle for Kikkoman Corp. in 1961, winning international popularity both for the handy dispenser and of course for the salty brown condiment flavoring many Asian cuisines.

Ekuan has said he wanted to design a small bottle because of his childhood memory of his mother pouring soy sauce from a big half-gallon bottle to a tabletop dispenser.

His renowned works also include motorcycles, audio equipment and company logos.

His office, GK Industrial Design Group, said Monday that Ekuan died of a heart problem at a Tokyo hospital early Saturday.