The case of Soko Bukai v. YWCA of San Francisco is part detective story and part history lesson, wrapped in an emotional court fight that is dredging up 80-year-old memories of institutional racism against Japanese immigrants in California.

At its simplest, the case asks: Who owns the two-story, wood-and-stucco building at 1830 Sutter St., which used to be the Japanese YWCA? Is it the Japanese-Americans living in the neighborhood, or the city YWCA, which officially holds title to the structure and tried to sell it?

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