The Ainu are the indigenous groups of Japan. They are the descendants of the early inhabitants originating in Hokkaido, who had their own language and culture. They have been living in Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, Kurile Islands and Sakhalin. However, only a minority of the Ainu population remains in Hokkaido.
In the late 19th century, Japanese discriminate against the Ainu people by imposing laws and policies to ban the Ainu language and seizing their land. The hunting and religious practices were also prohibited by Japan. They were even restricted to farm on government provided plots.
As the Ainu people depend heavily on hunting, fishing, farming, and selling crafts for survival, they have to fight for cultural survival acceptance.
It was only in 6 June 2008, the Ainu people then gained recognition by Japan. It was till then discrimination against the Ainu people was put to an end.
The appearance of the Ainu people is a major contrast from the Japanese. The physical traits of the Ainu people are so different from the Japanese that their origin is uncertain.
Unlike the Japanese men, the Ainu men have long beard and thick wavy hair. It was part of their culture to stop shaving at a certain age.