At first, Japanese victims of Hansen's disease were jubilant after a court fined a hot spring resort that turned them away last year. Then came the hate mail.

"We don't want to get into the same baths as you," seethed one of the 130 letters aimed at residents at Kikuchi-Keifuen sanitarium in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The case and the angry letters illustrate the lingering bigotry still plaguing former Hansen's patients in Japan, who were segregated under official policy until 1996.