When cops in Japan told a monk he shouldn’t drive a car wearing his traditional garb because his robe may affect his ability to handle the vehicle, an offbeat response by fellow monks went viral on social media.
The incident, which took place in Fukui about 180 miles west of Tokyo, resulted in the monk receiving a $50 fine for driving in robes that “could affect safety.” But when the monk community in Japan got wind of the news, it was having none of it.
Taking to Twitter with a hashtag that translates as, “I can do this in robes,” monks across the nation posted short videos of themselves performing a range of activities — from playing the drums and juggling to skipping on one leg — with their traditional garb clearly causing no hindrance.
One video showed a monk riding on an exercise bike without any difficulty, while another showed a monk performing multiple somersaults in the grounds of a temple, with his robe doing nothing to prevent him from landing perfectly on his feet.
— その他の坊主 (@bayashi567) January 4, 2019
— 山田和孝 (Kossan) (@kossan1108) January 3, 2019
— とっしゃん@お坊さん大道芸人 (@tossyan753) December 31, 2018
— 焼け石に肉 (@yakeishininiku) January 2, 2019
— へんも@ブロガー&足技で日本一の住職 (@henmority) December 31, 2018
— まーこ (@harima_mekkai) January 3, 2019
One even showed off his skills with a lightsaber …
— 祥山(声優) (@showzan331) January 2, 2019
Fukui’s road traffic regulations ban motorists from driving a vehicle in clothing that may affect its safe operation, with the traffic cop deeming the long length of the robe, as well as the long sleeves, a hazard.
But local news media reported that the monk who received the ticket is refusing to pay the fine, as he claims his busy role performing multiple services each day means that he needs to stay in his robes as he travels between locations. He added that he’s been driving in the attire for the last 20 years and has never received a ticket in that time.
If he refuses to pay the penalty, officials could send the case to public prosecutors for an alleged violation of road traffic laws, which could result in a formal trial, the Daily Yomiuri reported.
But the man clearly has the backing of his fellow monks — as well as many on Twitter — and appears unwilling to back down, telling reporters: “I’d like to clearly state at a trial that I can drive safely in a monk robe.”
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