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Shunji Tanaka: Kawasaki’s Former Head Passes

A view of recently deceased Shunji Tanaka

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of one of Kawasaki’s former heads, Shunji Tanaka – creator of the iconic Mazda Miata/Eunos Roadster/MX-5, designer and developer of beautiful bikes like Kawasaki’s middleweight, early-gen ER-6 and the 2014 Z1000

The man contributed so much to the Powersports industry – and his legacy continues on in today’s machines.

A view of recently deceased Shunji Tanaka

Source: AutoBlog

“Back then, Shunji Tanaka was responsible for breathing new life to Kawasaki, as the 2000s were undoubtedly a sharp turning point for all companies in the motorcycle and automotive industries,” explains a report from RideApart

“Indeed, we still see hints of Tanaka’s designs even in today’s crop of Kawasaki naked and sportbikes.”

A view of recently deceased Shunji Tanaka

Source: GoAuto

The report also mentions that Tanaka believed each of his projects had to ‘give emotions’. We see evidence of this in every machine he’s created over the years, from the “radical designs of the Ninja and Z H2 range of supercharged machines”, to what could be his biggest contribution to the motorcycle community – the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 with its (unique for the time) sugomi styling. 

What does ‘sugomi styling’ do to a bike?

Sugomi – defined by BikesRepulic as “the intense aura or energy given off by a person or object of greatness and felt by the viewer,” means a meaner look – and Shunji Tanaka used the styling to inject his bikes with an aggressive, intense personality that we still see today in the entire Z-range – from the more aggressive lean of the riding posture, to the sharp, angular fairings, slanted headlights and alien, predatory vibe. 

A view of recently deceased Shunji Tanaka

Source: Tek Deeps

It’s a beautiful range, from an amazing man – and the bike community remembers his gifts to us.

Our warmest condolences to the Shunji family during this time; drop a comment below if you would like to throw in a few words, and as always – stay safe on the twisties.

*Title media sourced from RideApart*