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The traditional soi robes worn by Japanese Buddhist monks may be traditional, but that doesn’t mean they cramp the wearer’s style.
A monk in Fukui was pulled over and slapped with a fine and ticket this month, for driving in ‘restrictive’ robes en route to a Buddhist service. The police officer believed the monk to be in violation of a traffic regulation, stating that clothing worn must not restrict the movement required for driving in any way.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the unnamed monk, who is in his forties, was hit with a 6000 yen (about $55) fine due to ‘driving in kimono that could affect safe driving’.
Hearing this, Buddhist monks from all over the country have come out in support of their fellow monk. Using a hashtag in Japanese, ‘I can do it in robes’, they posted videos on Twitter showing a whole range of skills. They skip, juggle, skateboard and even do backflips, proving their robes don't restrict them in any way.
Although in a trial by internet, the police have been well and truly owned, sadly, that’s not enough for the powers that be. So far, the monk has refused to pay his fine and ignored follow-up demands. Eventually he will have to defend himself in a real court.
But he seems defiant, the monk is quoted as saying he would like to ‘clearly state at a trial that I can drive safely in my robes.’ If there’s one lesson in all of this, it’s don’t mess with Japanese monks!