POINTS OF INTEREST
• Moving, inspiring true story of a modern
Christian heroine in the Japanese culture who
gave up wealth to serve the poorest of the
• Intriguing read for those interested in Japan
and its history of the 20th century, of theology
and comparative studies of religions
• Great companion volume to the acclaimed
story by the same author about another 20th
century Japanese Christian hero in A Song for
Following his acclaimed work, A Song for Nagasaki, in
which Fr. Paul Glynn told the powerful story of Dr. Nagai, a
Christian convert of remarkable courage and compassion who
ministered to the many victims of the atomic bomb attack,
The Smile of a Ragpicker brings us the valiant and inspiring story
of Satoko Kitahara, a young, beautiful woman of wealth who
gave up her riches and comfort to became one with the ragpickers.
In nine remarkable years at Sumida Park in Tokyo, Satoko
showed through her Christian commitment and serenity how
the lives of so many people could be changed by one person.
Importantly, she helped the poor recover their self respect and
In finding Christ, Satoko found herself. The journey was
not easy but her strong new Christian faith assured her that
Christ would be with her. Like many of the saints, Satoko
experienced the “dark night of the soul”. A restless young rich
woman, she was led by the Holy Spirit to forget her reservations
and pride and live with the poorest of the poor. The
Lord heard the cry of the poor, and He sent them Satoko. She
became known as “Ari no Machi no Maria”—Mary of Ants
Town. She inspired all those she touched.
Every day Satoko encountered Christ in some new and challenging
way. She was calling the Church back to identification
with the poor. She showed the strength of her internal faith.
Like Dr. Nagai, she expressed her faith through the sensitivity
and beauty of her own culture. Satoko died a young woman,
in dire poverty in a Tokyo slum. Yet her death, mourned
by many thousands, reflected her triumphant life of deep
Christian faith and charity.
This book is a powerful story of reconciliation, not between
countries, but between people of different social, economic
and religious backgrounds, inspired by a frail young woman
of luminous faith. Illustrated with photos.