A non-binary Japanese influencer with millions of social media followers has been found dead at 27.
Victim Ryuji Higa, who helped popularise “genderless kei” fashion, was found unresponsive at their agency’s office in Shibuya, Tokyo, on the evening of 12th July.
Genderless kei is a fashion subculture that emerged in Japan in the mid-2010s centred on gender non-conforming, androgynous fashion.
The 27-year-old, who went by the name “ryuchell” on social media, boasted 1.2 million followers on Twitter and on Instagram.
They also had tens of thousands of followers on TikTok, where their videos racked up millions of views.
Ryuji – who was born in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture – moved to the Japanese capital after sixth form and worked at clothing stores while also doing modelling work.
They married female model Tetsuko Okuhira, 28 – known professionally as Peco – in 2016.
The pair were a well-known item in Japan, making numerous appearances on TV in the late 2010s.
They welcomed a son into the world in 2018.
Four years later, the couple announced on Instagram that they were about to get divorced in a bid to start a “new kind of family”.
They told their followers that they would continue to raise their child together.
They later explained to local media that their decision was partly influenced by Ryuji’s need to explore their gender identity.
The influencer often publicly discussed LGBTQ issues and was a familiar face at the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride festival.
The investigation into their death, which is suspected to be suicide, is ongoing.