A Woman's Tale (I)


To be young. To be filled with hopes and dreams. To be fearless. To think about what it would be like to fall in love. To have your heart broken. And then it happens. Love. When you are in love, even the insignificant can bring a smile to your face. Or a tear to your eye. Every day is an adventure.


Here is the story of a young Japanese woman who spent her youth living such days.


Black Robe (Chapter 1)


The year was 1968. A 19-year-old female began to work in Tokyo and moved into a small apartment near Ikebukuro Station. With a job and a place to live secure, she began to feel that she could do more with her life. As she thought of what she could do next, she began to dream. Then she remembered her childhood dream of travelling all over the world.


"Why not become an international flight attendant? That way, while working I can visit so many countries…”


But then she realized that she must be able to speak English fluently. The first step she took was to attend a school three nights a week to learn English conversation at the YMCA.


However, to accomplish her dream would not be that easy. Her company began to grow rapidly. Her workload increased, she needed to work overtime. Even on Sunday, which was the only day off she had, her company quite often called her to come to work. By the time the weekend arrived, she was exhausted. Within 6 months of attending the night school, she had had enough of her busy life. She was always tired, and it became extremely hard to function properly at work and at school. She finally realized that her dream was beginning to slip away from her life.


"What's the point of living like this? I am not here just to do this, so why was I born into this world?"


she began to ask herself.


One Sunday, full of frustrating thoughts, she passed a tall grey Gothic building. It had a sharp spire reaching high into the clear blue sky. Such a building was rarely seen in Japan those days. It was a Catholic church. With the grey wall so large and thick, it seemed that once inside, you would be protected and away from harm. Contrasted to its solemn cold exterior, the inside was decorated with warm colors and very welcoming. From the moment she saw the church, she thought religion might be the key to answering her nagging question, "Why do I exist in this world?"


The following Sunday, as if she were possessed, she found herself at the door of the church. She knocked on the door. As the door opened, she met a young priest. It was the first time she had ever met a priest. He was dressed in a black robe and wore a rosary with a cross hanging from his belt. From the first moment she saw him, she was attracted by his sincere smile and kind eyes.


She began to visit the church whenever she could to receive Christ's teachings from him. After a while, even though her busy life continued, she began to feel better. Through reading a bible, she learned that suffering was a part of everyone’s life. This helped her to look at her life in a positive way. At the same time, each time she met the man in the black robe, his presence gradually grew in her heart. She knew the Catholic Church did not allow a priest to marry. Despite this reality she could not stop caring for him. The more she thought about the forbidden love, the deeper her feelings grew. She began to feel perplexed as she did not know how to deal with her true feelings.


A few months passed. One late Sunday afternoon, she entered the church to pray. She wanted to thank God for healing her troubled heart. Expecting no one in the church, she opened the heavy entrance door and quietly went in. There, she found the man in the black robe praying alone in the first pew. He was kneeling facing the altar in silence. The sun began to set and shone through the rainbow-colored stained glass and created a sacred atmosphere. It looked as though the lights were gently enveloping him in God's presence and were protecting him. Seeing the sight, she halted, and stood quietly in a dark corner near the door. And as she gazed at him praying, she felt overwhelming love towards him. She wept quietly. She knew her love for him would never be returned. 


The priest slowly became aware of her feeling towards him. Because he himself was growing to love her. But he could not reveal his true feelings to anyone. Afterall, it was a forbidden love.


On Easter Day the following year, when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, she was baptized. In her hand, there was a rosary that was given as a gift by the priest... With the joy of becoming a Catholic, she hoped to get over the agony of forbidden love. But on the contrary, they became more aware of each other’s existence. It was becoming hard even to exchange a glance. Their love began to grow. But as if God had sensed this, he was suddenly transferred to a church in Nagasaki one month later. If he were to be in Nagasaki, she would never see him again.


The day of his departure, she headed to the church earlier that afternoon so she could chat with him alone before anyone would be there. She would say good-by to him in person for the last time. But she found herself unable to cross the church gate because of the anticipation of her reaction to the situation – after this day, she may never see him again. Just thinking of him leaving forever from her life made her insane as if her heart were stabbed by a sharp knife. Could she really be ready to let go of him? She doubted herself.


To calm down, she walked toward the department store across from the church. She climbed the stairs in the store and found herself in a restaurant. It was a few hours before dinner time and not a single customer was in the place. She sat by a large window where she could see the church down below. As she stared down, many fond memories with him rushed into her head like waves of the ocean. Each memory brought tears to her eyes. She sat there in her thoughts for a long time and silently cried. A couple of hours later, when she could not shed any more tears, she forced herself to cross the church gate.


She found him under the wisteria shelf surrounded by a dozen of the congregation who came to say their final good-bye. He was exchanging smiles with everyone around him. For ease of travelling, instead of a black robe, he was dressed in casual black clothing. She thought that he looked more radiant in that attire. She took one deep breath and tried to walk toward the gathering, but her legs were paralyzed, and she could not move even a step closer. All she could do was to gaze at him from a distance. As the sun was setting, the neon signs in the city streets began to light one by one. The time for him to leave for the train approached and he began to bid farewell to everyone.


Seeing that the people begin to leave the church, she finally walked slowly towards the wisteria shelves to meet him so she could say goodbye. But as she gradually approached him, again she could not control her emotion and began to sob. The thought of her not being able to see him again made her heart tear apart. Afraid of exposing her feelings towards him to the people still around him, she left the church without saying goodbye. Tears flowed continuously, and she could not see how or where she was walking.


"I don't have to see him anymore..."


She told herself and decided never to see him again.


As she wept and wandered through the busy streets near the church, she began to realize the departure time of his train was quickly approaching. Suddenly, an overwhelming feeling of wanting to see him crashed into her thoughts.


" This isn’t what I really want. I want to see him before he leaves Tokyo and say good-bye. I want to see his face for the last time before he goes to Nagasaki.”


Her decision to walk away was overturned and she anxiously rushed to the train station near the church.


"It may be too late. But please wait for me!!"


She climbed the stairs of the station while praying that she could be there on time. But when she finally arrived at the platform, the door was ready to close. The only people left on the platform were the people who had come to send off the passengers. She quickly walked and peeped through each window of the train searching for the one she loved. But he was nowhere in sight. She became desperate.


The priest stood in the train, hiding himself behind a door. He knew that she had come to see him at the church, and that she had suddenly disappeared. He knew this because he had been waiting for her all day. Deep inside, he was hoping she would come back to church and talk to him. He was aware of the pain she was feeling when she had found out about his transfer to Nagasaki. Afterall, he loved her, and it was painful for him to leave Tokyo.


But if he would get off the train, he might not want to leave. Then he would not get back onto the train. If that happened, he would have to give up the transfer to Nagasaki. Worse, he would lose his priesthood. He knew deep inside, that was not what God ask of him.


He closed his eyes quietly and prayed for God to help him to get through this peril. At the same time, he begged for her forgiveness. As the door closed and the train slowly began to leave the station, he watched her disappear in a distance. He told himself that this was the last time he would see her. He knew that God would want him to have a strong will to overcome this moment... And he did. This action proved his true love for God...



Wearing a sacred black robe, you alone were praying silently.

Gazing at you without a word, I stood at the dark corner of the church.

Love that can not be true has torn my heart apart and causes me so much pain.

Love that can not be true has torn my heart apart and causes me so much pain.

Wanting you to know so desperately of my love for you.

Forbidden love this is, love that cannot be allowed.

Though my love can be yours, but your love could never be mine.

Though my love can be yours, but your love could never be mine.

Evening bells are ringing when you are leaving me behind.

Disappearing into the darkness, without knowing my love for you.

Loving you with all my heart, but your love is for the man on the cross alone.

Loving you with all my heart, but your love is for the man on the cross alone.