The Man Behind The Design of The Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle

The Man Behind The Design of The Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle

75 years ago this week, Kenji Ekuan, the designer of the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima, his family's hometown, by the atomic bomb.

As the disaster took place, Kenji felt a great nostalgia for human culture. He needed something to touch and look at. This desire drove him to be a maker of things.

In his 20s, Kenji won the soy sauce contract from Kikkoman. It took him 3 years and 100 prototypes to come up with a final design for his dispenser, which combined a curving form with a dripless spout. More than 300 million of the bottles have been sold.

As a child, Kenji walked the streets of Hiroshima, and spoke of hearing the voices of ‘mangled streetcars, bicycles and other objects’, lamenting they could no longer be used. “Objects have their own world. Making an object means imbuing it with its own spirit.”

Kenji said "he wanted to design the soy sauce bottle because he remembered his mother having to pour soy sauce from a big half-gallon bottle when he was a child."

Kenji was a prolific designer and his work shaped products closely associated with modern Japan. He designed the Yamaha motorcycle and bullet train used in Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail network. 

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