Friday, 27 July 2012

Tooru Matsui, a Playwright, became acquainted with a community of Ragpickers living on the banks of the Sumida River. He then decided to live with them, but was disturbed by the presence of a young Catholic named Satoko Kitahara who visited the township every day to look after the welfare of the children.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Satoko Kitahara was a wealthy young woman who lived in Tokyo in the years after World War II. She was well-educated, spoke several languages, played the piano and was trained as a pharmacologist. But she lived in a city in ruins. Some of the poorest people Tokyo, mostly widows and orphans, lived near the river in a place that came to be called “Ants' Town,” because the people who collected rubbish for a living were hard working and community minded. Satoko left her wealthy life behind to live with these people and help them gain respect and self worth.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


After Satoko Kitahara celebrated her first Christmas in Ants’ Town, she wrote to a close acquaintance, Shizue who was expecting her first child. Satoko knew she would stay single and not experience giving birth, and thus promised Shizue to pray for a safe delivery. But, she also wrote of “her own children”, saying, “It has become a real joy spending time with these little disadvantaged ones. My heart swells with special joy for your child because I too have come to know the joys of motherhood — thanks to my children in Ants Town. By devoting her life to the children Satoko became known as Ari no Machi no Maria – Mary of Ants’ Town.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Elizabeth Maria Satoko Kitahara

Satoko took the baptismal name of Elizabeth, a heroic and courageous queen of Hungary who burned herself out in 1231 by looking after destitute lepers and establishing a hospital for the poor. When Satoko explained to her bemused parents the Un-Japanese custom of choosing a baptismal name, her father, an economics professor, quipped,: “Were she my pupil I would have to fail her on the way she wasted her family’s money!” 

Friday, 9 March 2012


March 25 – The prayer “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, enabled Satoko Kitahara to claim victory over all official attempts to evict her people before she secured a dignified outcome for the homeless.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


How commanding is the event of Lourdes? One hundred years after the apparitions and on the opposite side of the world in Japan, Satoko Kitahara became a captive of the simple but powerful image of Our Lady of Lourdes. Satoko was so much influenced by the power of the statue that she studied the event and converted from Shinto/Buddhism to the Catholic faith. Later she was to set up a replicate Shrine at Ants’ Town, a village of poverty stricken war victims.