The Ainu (アイヌ?), also called Aynu, Aino (アイノ), and in historical texts Ezo (蝦夷), are a group of indigenous people living in Japan and Russia – thought to originate from the Jōmon-jin people whom many think might have been the first to settle North America. Historically, they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin. A medieval Chinese historian referred to the Ainu region as the “Land of the Hairy Men” on account of the abundance of their facial hair compared to the typical inhabitant of Japan.

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