KOBE • Celebrity hairstylist Shunji Matsuo died yesterday in his hometown of Kobe, Japan, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Only his close friends had known of the bachelor's illness.
"He didn't want people to know because he wanted to celebrate life and he didn't want people to be sad. He always had enthusiasm for life," said fashion stylist Lionnel Lim, who began collaborating with Mr Matsuo in 2008.
Trained in hairdressing in Japan, Mr Matsuo opened his first salon in Singapore in 1996.
There are currently 10 Shunji Matsuo salons in locations including Ion Orchard, Ngee Ann City and 313 @Somerset.
Mr Lim said that he last saw Mr Matsuo at the latter's home about two months ago, before he left Singapore for Japan.
Up until the last, Mr Matsuo was dedicating himself to others. He had travelled to Kobe for one of his Makeover Magic shows, an annual event he had held since 2013 in both Singapore and Japan, giving makeovers to older women and cancer survivors.
He had stayed on in Kobe to seek alternative medical care.
"He had a very positive conviction that he would get better. He never allowed his illness to stop him from what he was doing," Mr Lim said, adding that Mr Matsuo had previously overcome liver cancer, which left his body in a weakened state.