"You're wearing a Kobo Daishi T-shirt," the Buddhist priest observed.

My T-shirt was army green with an artistic rendition of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. The priest looked at the detail on the shirt closely. The outline of Kobo Daishi was cream-colored and he was sitting in the middle of a swirl of a gray, paint-splattered background. In the background were two images: a hand holding a string of juzu beads and a Shingon implement that even I couldn't identify.

After examining the icons on the shirt, he came to this conclusion: "Japanese people would never wear this shirt." He was not unkind when he said it but he emphasized, "True believers would not wear this."