Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To celebrate her newest single “7 Rings,” pop star Ariana Grande got a kanji tattoo. Unfortunately, it’s wrong.

Update January 31 - 4:30 am: Ariana Grande got her tattoo “fixed,” but at best, it’s still an odd kanji tattoo. At worst, she’s made the tattoo worse.


Japanese can be read in vertical columns going right to left, top to bottom. It also can be read left to right like in English.

Screenshot: Ariana Grande (Instagram)

Hoping to correct the “small charcoal grill” (七輪) kanji, Grande added the kanji 指, meaning “finger.” This addition attempts to turn the kanji 輪, meaning wheel or hoop, into the word 指輪 (yubiwa), meaning “ring” as in for a finger, and mitigating the BBQ kanji. However, the kanji 指 and 輪 are split into different lines, so it looks weird. In English, this would be like writing “rings” as “ri” and then “ngs” in another paragraph. Japanese kids are taught not to split kanji characters in school because it’s confusing. Now, you could split kanji for a stylized design, but that’s with correct Japanese, which her tattoo is not. Since the way that “seven” is written remains wrong, this is another bad kanji tattoo.

As seen in Grande’s music video, the correct way to write “seven rings” in Japanese is 七つの指輪 (nanatsu no yubiwa) and not simply what her “fixed” tattoo now has, 七指輪 (shichi yubiwa or nana yubiwa—I’m not sure because that phrasing doesn’t exist in Japanese), which is still incorrect.


It also seems the “fix” is based on the assumption the tattoo will be read from left to right, top to bottom. But going left to right, top to bottom isn’t how Japanese is supposed to be read. If you are reading the correct way, which is right to left, top to bottom, the characters would be 輪指七, which is backward and utter nonsense, or more accurately, 輪♡七指, which is even more bizarre.

“Rip tiny charcoal grill,” Grande wrote on Instagram. “Miss u man.” But...the Japanese word for BBQ is still there.


Japanese people will probably be inclined to read it the other correct way I mentioned (across, left to right) because the tattoo still has the word 七輪 (shichirin, meaning “small charcoal grill”) looking you in the face. It’s right there. You cannot miss it. Underneath that, it clearly reads, 指 (“finger”) with a heart.

So from right to left, the “fixed” tattoo now reads, “Small charcoal grill, finger *heart*.”


Original story continues below.

Grande posted a photo of her tattoo. In Japanese, it reads, 七輪 (shichirin). You can see the pic photo (via Grande’s official Japanese Twitter), which has since been deleted from her Instagram.


The kanji character 七 means “seven,” while 輪 means “hoop,” “circle,” “ring,” or “wheel.” However, when you put them together, the meaning is different! 七輪 (shichirin) is a “small charcoal grill” and not “seven rings,” which is written differently in Japanese.


Here is a shichirin:


There is even an English language Wiki page for shichirin.

Screenshot: Wiki

A Google image search for 七輪 brings up these pics:

Screenshot: Google Images

The most unfortunate thing of all is that Grande has people in Japan operating a Twitter account for her (next time ask them to check stuff!) and the video for “7 Rings” has the proper Japanese.

In the video, it’s correctly written as 七つの指輪 (nanatsu no yubiwa) or “seven rings.” It’s a shame she didn’t show that text to her tattooer.


How did this tattoo mistake happen? In a now deleted reply, Grande wrote, that she “left out ‘つの指’ which should have gone in between,” thus shortening the correct 七つの指輪 (seven rings) to 七輪 (small charcoal grill.” Whoops!


Continuing, she wrote that “it hurt like fuck” and “still looks tight,” adding that, she “wouldn’t have lasted one more symbol.” But those symbols have significance and unfortunately here, they totally changed the meaning of this tattoo.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored five books, including most recently, Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter