Remembering the Man Who Contained the World’s Most Famous Soy Sauce

By Noah Kaufman |

© Mediablitzimages / Alamy

If you have ever gone out to eat sushi, you have almost certainly held his work in your hands. Kenji Ekuan, the man behind the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, passed away Monday at the age of 85. He designed the bottle in 1961, and it says something about both the man and his work that it has lasted more than five decades. Just last year, Ekuan won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award—one of the highest honors in the design world—for his lifetime of work. In addition to the famous condiment bottle, he designed everything from one of Japan’s renowned bullet trains to motorcycles to beer cans. He even dove deep into the meaning of design in his book The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox, in which he posited that the simple bento box was key to understanding Japanese culture and history.

Even though it is what he’ll be best remembered for, his work went well beyond the realm of soy sauce. So here is a look at some of Ekuan’s other memorable designs.

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