September 22, 2023

Higa Ryuji, better known as Ryuchell, has died at the age of 27. They were found unconscious at a property in Shibuya on the night of July 12, and declared dead shortly after. It appears that the cause of death is suicide.

Born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1995, Ryuchell moved to Tokyo after graduating from high school and began working at clothing stores in Harajuku while also modeling and gaining popularity as an Instagram influencer. In 2016, Higa married Okuhira Tetsuko, better known as Peco. The pair attracted attention online thanks to their colorful fashion stylings and upbeat personalities, and often appeared together on various TV programs in the latter half of last decade. The couple had a son in 2018.

Ryuchell gained recognition for their role in popularizing “genderless kei” fashion, which was described on prominent Harajuku fashion and culture site Tokyo Fashion in 2016 as “(incorporating) male and female beauty techniques and fashion items to achieve an androgynous look.” The site highlighted Ryuchell as an inspirational figure to many wanting to explore this style, adding that “(genderless kei followers) are rejecting traditional gender rules to create a new Genderless standard of beauty.”

Last year, Ryuchell and Peco announced via Instagram that they would divorce in order to start a “new kind of family” wherein they would continue to raise their child together. The two discussed their decision in a Very magazine interview shortly after, revealing that part of it stemmed from Ryuchell’s need to explore their gender identity.

Ryuchell was a longtime advocate for LGBTQ issues in Japan, frequently speaking on the subject in public and actively participating in Tokyo Rainbow Pride, one of Asia’s largest LGBTQ-related events.



If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please seek help! Here is a list of international suicide prevention hotlines!

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