Japan funky monks show robes no hazard in Twitter protest

Monks around Japan put on impressive displays of agility wearing the dress that stretches down to the wearer's feet.
Monks around Japan put on impressive displays of agility wearing the dress that stretches down to the wearer's feet.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM TWITTER/YAKEISHININIKU, TWITTER/HENMORITY

TOKYO (AFP) - Monks across Japan have been posting pictures of themselves leaping, skipping and juggling in their traditional robes in defence of a colleague stopped by police who thought wearing the garb made driving dangerous.

The hashtag "I can do it in a monk robe" went viral on Japanese Twitter on Friday (Jan 4) as monks around the country put on impressive displays of agility wearing the dress that stretches down to the wearer's feet.

Tetsuya Hangai, a 29-year-old monk in northern Fukushima prefecture, showed off his tricks with juggling sticks in a black kimono robe in a room with tatami mats.

"I can move a lot even in a robe and driving in it isn't a problem at all," Hangai wrote with the hashtag on Twitter.

Takatsugu Mihara, a monk in western Kagawa prefecture, posted a video of him leaping with a skipping rope while playing keepy-uppy with a small ball.

"I can do this much, so driving is not a problem," he wrote.

Another monk played the drums to prove his point.

Late last month, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that a monk in his 40s was fined by police for "taking the wheel while wearing a Japanese robe that could interfere with driving" under local traffic rules in Fukui prefecture.

Police decided that the sleeves and hems of his robe were too long for driving, the paper said.

The man, who was on his way to a Buddhist memorial service, has refused to pay the fine of 6,000 yen (S$76), claiming that many monks drive to religious events in a robe.