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Japan - Smashing A Wedding Ring

Divorce Often Leads To The Wedding Rings Being Smashed With A Hammer

Observers describe the solemn ocassion of Japanese divorce as being similar to a funeral. The kind of Japanese divorce situation that we are going to talk about is related to those cases where, reconciliation is found to be impossible. Basically the divorcing couple wants to a new life, but want to do so without being husband and wife any more. An interesting divorce 'ceremony' is today gaining momentum. Basically it involves, smashing the wedding ring with a huge hammer. We will come to the hammer used to smash the ring a bit later but, first a feel of the atmosphere.

The smashing of the wedding ring could be done in a restaurant, or even in a religious place. The husband and wife who are to be divorced generally arrive at the scene separately. While some couples prefer to do it all alone with, just one or two acquaintences, the invited crowd could sometimes number 20 or even 50 guests. As expected, the guests are family members of the divorcing couple. While there are few documented incidents of such ceremonies in reputed news magazines and dailies, no mention of ring value has been published!

japanese divorce, destroying wedding rings
Some Japanese couples smash their wedding rings with a frog shaped hammer, to solemnize their intent to divorce and lead separate lives. The ceremnony is believed to bring peace to the separating couple and the frog symbol, helps in starting a new life and bringing positive change.

Now back to the hammer that the Japanese couple would use to smash the wedding ring. The hammer is quite huge and bulky, often made from wood rather than from iron or any other metal. The interesting thing about this hammer is that, it has a head that resembles a frog - there is a special reason for using such a hammer to smash the wedding ring. The frog is a symbol of good luck in Japanese tradition. Called 'kaeroo' in Japanese, a frog is said to promote change or a new beginning. The couple in formal dress stand up and hold the frog shaped hammer together, the wedding ring is placed on the table. It takes a couple of sharp blows for the wedding ring to disintegrate and warp out of shape. While the paper work might still take time to get processed, the couple is now divorced in mind, sould and heart.

While there are normally about 200,000 to 250,000 Japanese divorces each year, the percentage of couples who decide to (together) smash their wedding rings is not high. But what is certain is that, more Japanese couples might choose this way to end their marriage. It is generally found that the man and lady claim to get much peace and calm after such a ceremony. So what happens to the wedding ring after it is smashed. From our research couples did one of two things. The divorcing couples sometimes choose to put the damaged wedding ring in a small float that is provided with a candle space (lantern). The float is allowed to drift away in the water, a river is generally chosen for the purposes. The undocumented part might, reveal that amateur swimmers or even divers might search the water for the valuable jewel! Not all Japanese divorcing couples choose to float their smashed wedding ring in the river. We have reports where, the broken wedding ring is placed in a small frog shaped, bowl. Once again, it is the importance of the frog in Japanese culture that favors the use of a bowl shaped like a frog.

Some ring smashing divorce ceremonies in Japan can be look much like dinner get togethers. Traditional drinks and food might be served immediately after the couple has smashed their own wedding ring. Like most other traditions, the objective is to get peace of mind and mental satisfaction. The ceremony marks the beginning of a new life, the beginning of change for the lady and man.

Now let us reflect a bit on this interesting ceremony enacted by Japanese couples that choose to divorce. We will not be too critical with our comments but rather, present some interesting view points made by others. A Chinese professor teaching in Thailand talked about how, the Chinese burnt 'new clothes', 'bank notes' and similar objects during various Chinese ceremonies. The Chinese believe that sending these up in smoke, allows their dead ancestors to receive and use the items. The point what the Chinese professor made was very interesting, the clothes and money that is burnt in such cases are fakes, generally made from simple pieces of paper. In the year 2012-2013 when the Apple IPAD just invaded the cyber world, some Chinese in Hongkong and even in Bangkok actually burnt paper relplicas of the IPAD or even the IPHONE hoping that, their ancestors would have the benefit of these advanced technologies!


On a recent visit to downtown Tokyo, we spoke to a few teenagers about this newly grown Japanese 'tradition'. While many of them thought that it was the best way, to permanently and peacefully end a broken and wounded marriage, others had their own ideas. A young Japanese lady commented that, it might be a better idea to actually sell the wedding ring and donate the proceeds to charity. We gave her comment the nod of approval, she went back to chatting on her latest smartphone.


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