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Kurile Islands

The Kurile islands, now generally written 'Kuril' islands, stretch northeast from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka; very much as the Ryukyu islands stretch southwest from Saikaido[?] (Kyushu), Japan, to Taiwan.

They are known in Japanese as the Kuriru retto or, in older times, Ezo nga Chishima (= thousand islands of the Ezo (Ainu)). They were inhabited by the Ainu from time immemorial until the Japanese approached from the south in the middle ages and the Russians from the north in the 18th century. Japan inherited them all in 1875 in exchange for ceding Sakhalin to Russia.

The islands are renowned for their fogginess but are rich in seaweed and marine life, such as fish and otters. The northernmost, Oyakoba[?], is an almost perfect volcanic cone rising sheer out of the sea and has led to many Japanese eulogies in haiku, wood-block prints, etc., extolling its beauty, much as they do the more well-known Fuji. The southern most Islands are claimed by both Russia and Japan, a continuing Kuril Island Conflict[?]

See also: Treaty of San Francisco



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