Ariana Grande's Japanese tutor is setting the record straight about the "7 Rings" controversy. Grande made headlines when a recent tattoo of hers went awry, spelling "Japanese BBQ grill" instead of "7 Rings," as Grande had planned. Grande attempted to fix the symbols, with the help of her tutor, only to have the tat then read "Japanese BBQ finger." Shortly after, she was accused of cultural appropriation.
"u kno how many people make this mistake and DON'T care just cause they like how it looks? bruh ... i care soooo much. what would you like me to do or say? forreal," she wrote in a now-deleted tweet, adding, "There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation. My japanese fans were always excited when i wrote in japanese or wore japanese sayings on my clothing. however, all of the merch with japanese on it was taken down from my site not that anyone cared to notice."
While many are learning of Grande's affinity for Japanese culture just this year, her tutor Ayumi Furiya, founder of the Fuji School, says Grande has been taking lessons since 2015.
"After the second time she went to Japan, she realized she wanted to be able to communicate with her Japanese fans in Japanese," Furiya told The Cut, explaining that she and Grande used to do lessons two or three times a week, but the singer's increased popularity and hectic touring schedule has made lessons in the past year less frequent.
"Today, to be honest, I maybe tutor her once a year in person," she told the outlet. "We talk and we text sometimes, though. But she is still my student and I am still her teacher."
As for the tattoo, Furiya says Grande had not consulted her beforehand, but she doesn't mind how Grande ended up altering it due to space constraints, even though it's not entirely correct.
"I really liked her idea to use that position. I really like the art," she said, adding, "I am so, so mad that many people are making fun of her. I don’t want this to stop anyone from being motivated to learn another language."
And who knows — maybe "Japanese BBQ finger" can be the name of her next album.