Buddhist monks across Japan are now banding together online to show their support for a monk who was fined for driving while wearing their traditional robe last year.
With the hashtag “I can do this in monks’ robes” (僧衣でできるもん
), monks across Japan are now posting clips on social media where they perform tasks like skipping ropes, playing the drums, and riding an exercise machine all while wearing their traditional garb, BBC
Some of them, however, decided to raise the bar a little higher by performing certain acts that require more physical effort and even precision.
On September 16 at around 10 a.m. in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, an unnamed 40-something monk was given a blue traffic violation ticket after a police saw him driving a light vehicle in his ritual robe. It was reportedly written on the violation ticket that he was “driving in kimono that could affect safe driving,”
according to The Yomiuri Shimbun
The monk, who was on his way to a ceremony and wore a robe that falls below his knees when he was stopped over by the traffic police, said that this was the first time he had been given a ticket in his 20 years of driving while wearing the same attire.
In Japan, road traffic law prohibits people from driving while wearing clothes that could severely affect safe driving. However, an official was quoted by the publication saying that not all Buddhist monk robes are subject to this violation, which certainly leaves the rules vague.
If he refused to pay the fine, the authorities may send the official papers to a public prosecutor for the violation and the case could possibly turn into a formal trial, but this scenario did not deter the monk.
“I’d like to clearly state at a trial that I can drive safely in a monk robe,” he told the media.