The ninth-floor room in Tokyo's Mejiro where Kenji Ekuan receives guests is a perfect reflection of his personality. One wall is stacked with diplomas, photos and portraits, all neatly framed but in no particular order. Opposite, floor-to-ceiling glass shelving is crammed with memorabilia and knickknacks -- a collector's dream, a cleaner's nightmare.

On the coffee table is a too-small satin top hat that, with elflike good humor, he balances on his head. "It was a gift earlier this year in Finland. It came with an honorary doctorate from Helsinki's University of Art and Design. I'm told it's traditional, but in electric blue?"

In the corner is a glass coffin containing a life-size dummy on large chrome wheels that do not touch the ground. When switched on, the wheels turn, colored lights pulsate and the figure (based on Ekuan) is illuminated from within. "It's what I call my 'soulmobile.' " He made it 20 years ago, inscribing the sides in Japanese and English with his own spiritual musings.