Unless you're a mathematician or an engineer, pi probably ranks high on the list of things that are of little or absolutely no use in your life.

In fact, so marginal is the perceived importance of pi -- a number many remember from school only as "somewhere around 3.14, or roughly 22 divided by 7," but which is actually the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter -- that many schools in Japan even teach the value of pi as 3 to simplify the concept amid the plethora of math formulas, grammar rules and history facts that students must cram.

But for Akira Haraguchi, pi is more than just a vague figure or a mathematical concept -- like zero -- that proves itself vital to many calculations. In fact, he says the infinite series of numbers, which computers have calculated to more than 1 trillion digits without detecting any repetition or pattern, provides him with the source of epic novels and poems -- and even the answers to his lifelong spiritual quest.