World

Half century after creation, Kikkoman bottle symbolizes soy sauce in much of world

  • Soy sauce bottles are placed on the table with chopsticks and other condiments at a restaurant in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. It’s a simple glass bottle with a red top that has become a symbol of soy sauce in Japan and much of the world. More than half a century after its creation, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle remains a familiar and comforting shape on restaurant and dining room tables in many countries. The bottle’s designer, Kenji Ekuan, died Saturday, Feb. 7 of a heart condition at age 85. Japanese on the bottle reads: Premium unprocessed soybeans soy sauce. Japanese on the red bottle reads: Seven flavored red pepper. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Soy sauce bottles are placed on the table with chopsticks and other condiments at a restaurant in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. It’s a simple glass bottle with a red top that has become a symbol of soy sauce in Japan and much of the world. More than half a century after its creation, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle remains a familiar and comforting shape on restaurant and dining room tables in many countries. The bottle’s designer, Kenji Ekuan, died Saturday, Feb. 7 of a heart condition at age 85. Japanese on the bottle reads: Premium unprocessed soybeans soy sauce. Japanese on the red bottle reads: Seven flavored red pepper. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)  (The Associated Press)

  • A chef picks up a bottle of soy sauce at a restaurant in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. It’s a simple glass bottle with a red top that has become a symbol of soy sauce in Japan and much of the world. More than half a century after its creation, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle remains a familiar and comforting shape on restaurant and dining room tables in many countries. The bottle’s designer, Kenji Ekuan, died Saturday, Feb. 7 of a heart condition at age 85. Japanese on the bottle reads: Premium unprocessed soybeans soy sauce. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    A chef picks up a bottle of soy sauce at a restaurant in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. It’s a simple glass bottle with a red top that has become a symbol of soy sauce in Japan and much of the world. More than half a century after its creation, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle remains a familiar and comforting shape on restaurant and dining room tables in many countries. The bottle’s designer, Kenji Ekuan, died Saturday, Feb. 7 of a heart condition at age 85. Japanese on the bottle reads: Premium unprocessed soybeans soy sauce. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)  (The Associated Press)

  • This 2003 photo shows Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan in Tokyo. Ekuan, 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, his company said on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. He was 85. Ekuan, a former monk, crafted a tabletop bottle for Kikkoman Corp. in 1961, winning international popularity both for the handy, flask-shaped dispenser and of course for the salty brown condiment flavoring many Asian cuisines. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY

    This 2003 photo shows Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan in Tokyo. Ekuan, 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, his company said on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. He was 85. Ekuan, a former monk, crafted a tabletop bottle for Kikkoman Corp. in 1961, winning international popularity both for the handy, flask-shaped dispenser and of course for the salty brown condiment flavoring many Asian cuisines. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY  (The Associated Press)

It's a simple glass bottle with a red top that has become a symbol of soy sauce in Japan and much of the world.

More than half a century after its creation, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle remains a familiar and comforting shape on restaurant and dining room tables in many countries.

Sumi Murayama, 71, has purchased soy sauce in the bottles since she opened a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo 40 years ago.

"The best part of the bottle is its smart red cap, which doesn't drip," she said. "Its simplicity perfectly fits a downtown restaurant like this."

The bottle's designer, Kenji Ekuan, died Saturday of a heart condition at age 85. He had said he wanted to design a small soy sauce bottle that could be used conveniently for both cooking and serving because of childhood memories of his mother pouring sauce from a heavy 2-liter (half-gallon) bottle into a tabletop dispenser. He also designed a Yamaha motorcycle, high-speed trains and audio equipment.

Kikkoman, the world's largest soy sauce brewer, said the bottle helped bring its brand out of the kitchen into restaurants and dining rooms. It says it has sold 400 million bottles around the world since its creation in 1961.