At first glance, Yugasan Rendaiji doesn't seem very different to the thousands of other Buddhist temples scattered across the country. It's a place where members of the local community go at prescribed times of the year to pray, receive blessings and attend festivals. For tourists — the smattering who make it to the Okayama countryside, that is — it's a picturesque place to drop by and snap a few photos.

But beneath the temple's deceivingly ordinary exterior, a quiet revolution is brewing within the halls of Shingon, one of Japan's most secretive and least understood Buddhist sects. It comes in the form of the Hoodie Monks, a one-of-a-kind movement that seems to naturally marry two cultures that might at first seem like unlikely partners: Buddhism and hip-hop.

The movement is the brainchild of Gomyo, or Kevin Seperic, an American priest who works at the temple. He says the group's name originated from the nickname he was given by a graffiti-artist friend who noticed that he often wore a hooded sweater under his samue, or monk's work clothes, during the winter months.