Ainu are an ethnic group indigenous to Hokkaido the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin. There are most likely over 150,000 Ainu today; however the exact figure is not known as many Ainu hide their origin due to racial issues in Japan. In many cases, surviving Ainu may not be even aware of their ancestry, as their parents and grandparents kept their descent private in order to protect their children from social problems. Their most widely known ethnonym is derived from the word ainu, which means "human" (particularly as opposed to kamui, divine beings) in the Hokkaido dialects of the Ainu language; Emishi, Ezo or Yezo are Japanese terms, which are believed to derive from the ancestral form of the modern Sakhalin Ainu word enciw or enju, also meaning "human". The term Utari (meaning "comrade" in Ainu) is now preferred by some members of this minority.