Renowned Japanese TV personality, social media influencer, and fashion icon Ryuji Higa, popularly known as ryuchell, has tragically passed away at the young age of 27, as reported by various media outlets.
On Wednesday evening, Higa was found unconscious at a residence in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, and despite immediate efforts to revive him, he was declared deceased shortly after. Local news reports in Japan suggest that the cause of his untimely death is likely suicide.
Born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1995, Higa relocated to Tokyo following his high school graduation and embarked on a career in the fashion industry. Initially working at clothing stores in Harajuku, he quickly gained recognition as a model and rose to prominence as an influential figure on Instagram. In 2016, Higa tied the knot with fellow Harajuku model and TV personality Tetsuko Okuhira, known as Peco. The couple captivated audiences with their vibrant fashion choices and charismatic personalities, frequently making joint appearances on television programs during the latter half of the 2010s. In 2018, they welcomed a son into their lives.
Higa’s significant contribution to the fashion world was his role in popularizing the “genderless-kei” style. This unique fashion trend, as described by Tokyo Fashion, involved blending traditional male and female aesthetics and fashion elements to achieve an androgynous look. Higa’s distinctive style served as an inspiration for many individuals interested in exploring this non-conforming approach, with Tokyo Fashion praising him as an influential figure who challenged traditional beauty standards.
In 2022, Higa and Okuhira made the difficult decision to separate, announcing their divorce via Instagram. However, they emphasized their commitment to creating a “new kind of family” and continuing to co-parent their child. In an interview with Very magazine, they opened up about their decision, citing Higa’s personal journey of self-discovery and exploration of gender identity as a contributing factor.
Beyond his impact on fashion, Higa was a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights in Japan. He frequently spoke out about LGBTQ issues, using his platform to raise awareness and promote acceptance. Higa actively participated in Tokyo Rainbow Pride, one of Asia’s largest LGBTQ-related events, further demonstrating his dedication to fostering inclusivity and understanding.
Following the devastating news of Higa’s passing, Okuhira and their son, who were abroad at the time, have returned to Japan to mourn his loss and seek solace in their home country.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis and requires assistance, it’s important to remember that help is available. In the event of an emergency in Japan, please dial 119 for immediate assistance. The TELL Lifeline offers free and confidential counseling services and can be reached at 03-5774-0992. For individuals outside of Japan, International Suicide Hotlines provide a comprehensive list of resources and assistance. Remember, reaching out for support is a courageous step towards healing, and there are organizations ready to provide the help you need.