Satako Kitahara was born in Tokyo in 1929 to a wealthy family. After her early education she worked in an aircraft factory during World War II but suffered from tuberculosis. In 1949 Satako graduated from Pharmaceutical College. That year, Satako entered a Catholic church and felt drawn to a statue of the Virgin Mary. After learning about Christianity, she was baptized.
In 1950, Satako was introduced to the community of ragpickers who eked out a subsistence life in Tokyo. World War II had devastated the city and left many people impoverished. Satako joined a Franciscan, Brother Zeno, who worked with outcasts who called themselves the Ant People because of how hard they worked to scavenge and sell reuseable junk. She taught the children and helped collect items for resale.
Satako Kitahara yearned to live a Christian life with no holds barred; she pledged voluntary simplicity and moved into Ant Town herself to live as a ragpicker. By 1957 Satako was again ravaged by tuberculosis. The young woman who was called "The Mary of Ant Town" died on January 23, 1958 at the age of twenty-eight. Her grave is today a shrine for spiritual seekers.