Thursday, January 3, 2019

Monk Driver Protest


"Soui" (僧衣) is a term that refers to the traditional clothing that is worn by monks in Japan.
Recently a monk who was driving a car was pulled over by a police officer in Fukui who argued that his clothing was unsafe to wear while operating a vehicle because it limits movement too much. The officer seemed to be assuming that the long robes could get caught on the pedals or the long sleeves could get caught somewhere.
Soon the internet responded. Many people on the internet who were more familiar with "soui" showed concern about the unfair practice of punishing motorists for wearing such robes. People demonstrated their range of movement and agility while dressed in monks garb. Some young monks showed off juggling, doings flips and demonstrating martial arts while wearing the offending style of clothing. This trend has been gaining attention under the hashtag #僧衣でできるもん ( "soui de dekirumon" or "I can do this with monk's clothes").

In Osaka I often see monks in the soui riding scooters (with the addition of safety helmets, of course), I always enjoy seeing this anachronistic mix in the streets.

Also, as someone who does kendo, I like the idea of society being accepting of people wearing unusual clothing on the street; I often ride a bicycle while wearing a hakama and have never had a problem. I pull up the edges of the legs for convenience and safety; allowing me to pedal more easily without the edges of the hakama getting under the pedal or into the wheels/chain.

Below are some of the interesting posts from Twitter that I have found which use the "#僧衣でできるもん" hashtag.

The last post features Mako, a well known swordsman and cosplayer who often shows off sword techniques while wearing costumes (maids, samurai, monks...) so this trend suits him quite well.