Buddhist monks juggle, box, dance to show their garments are no hindrance after monk refuses to pay fine for driving in his robe. 

If you’ve been to Japan, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a monk in robes driving a car or riding a scooter, travelling to fulfil work duties that include conducting memorial ceremonies in people’s homes.

On 16 September, though, a Buddhist monk who was driving a car in Fukui Prefecture was stopped by police and fined 6,000 yen (US$55.38), with officers claiming that the long sleeves and hem of his robes hindered proper operation of the vehicle.

The monk has refused to pay the fine, and his sect is supporting his decision.

After the story came to light in a news report published on 29 December, monks around the country were quick to show their support for their fellow monk, refuting claims that their robes are a hindrance with a hashtag that’s now gone viral.

The peaceful protest is being catalogued under #僧衣でできるもん (“I can do it in a Buddhist Monk’s Robe“), with monks adding to the collection every day. So far we’ve seen monks riding exercise bikes…

▼ Boxing…

▼ Skateboarding…

▼ And dancing to Da Pump’s USA

The Assistant Chief Priest at Hensho-ji in Fukushima Prefecture showed his support with an impressive juggling performance.

A number of other juggling priests joined in with their own videos, showcasing the fact that their sleeves don’t hinder them.

These chief priests took out their jump ropes to show that long hems don’t interfere with their footwork.

▼ While other monks played drums…


And even death metal. Although we don’t recommend driving with a straw basket on your head. That’s a non-driving activity best left to the strolling Edo-period komuso monks.

This xylophone-playing monk likened robes to suits, saying that they’re formalwear, and there’s nothing they can’t do while wearing them.

Back in the day, fighting monks swung long swords while dressed in robes, making driving much easier by comparison.

And let’s take a moment to remember the fact that the Jedi in Star Wars wielded lightsabers with ease in their monk-like robes.

Road Traffic Laws in Fukui Prefecture prohibit driving in “attire that hinders proper operation of a vehicle”. However, police say driving in monk’s robes is not a blanket offence; instead being determined on a case-by-case basis by individual officers. The offence written by police on the infringement ticket was “Driving in Japanese clothes that hindered driving“.

With such a grey area surrounding the by-law, some monks took the opportunity to use the hashtag to share some useful advice to fellow monks to prevent possible infringements in future.

▼ Best to wear proper shoes rather than woven geta sandals when driving.

▼ And keep your sleeves up and away from your wrists.

According to media reports, the monk booked by police in September was in his 40s, and was on his way to conduct a memorial ceremony while dressed in his usual robes, with a hemline that fell below the knee. The monk said this was the first time for him to be fined in over 20 years of driving in his robe to carry out his daily work duties.

Sources: Yomiuri ShimbunNet Lab
Featured image: Twitter/@showzan331