Buddhist monks, like the rest of us, have places to go and people to see. There are part-time jobs to get to and funerals to conduct. It’s not that uncommon to see someone behind the wheel of a car dressed in the traditional robes of Buddhist clergy. Which is why one monk’s refusal to pay a traffic ticket may have set off a Twitter hashtag trend. Search for #僧衣でできるもん, which means “I can do it in monk’s robes,” and you’ll be greeted with robed monks deftly juggling, working out and jumping rope.
The online trend stems from a Sept. 16 traffic stop of a monk in Japan’s Fukui prefecture north of Kyoto. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the monk, who was in his traditional robes, was cited for wearing clothing that could affect his ability to safely drive a car. Although not all Buddhist clothing is outlawed for driving purposes, it’s up to the discretion of the police officer to issue a fine, according to the Yomiuri.
In this case, the Yomiuri reported that the officer believed the sleeves and length of the monk’s robe were too long.
The monk and his sect oppose these regulations, and the monk is refusing to pay the 6,000-yen, or $55, fine.
In solidarity with their brother, other monks in Japan have taken to Twitter to show off just how nimble they can be while in traditional robes. A few of them are pretty impressive, and it turns out they have side gigs as street performers or actors.
The article in the Yomiuri was published Dec. 29, which may have sparked the trend.
The mononymous Shoshan is a voice actor and monk with an affinity for special effects.
Tetsuya Hangai is a monk who has been juggling devil sticks for 11 years, according to this juggling website.
Zuiho Yokoyama is a monk and social worker.