A Finnish-American reader writes:
Steve, have you ever investigated the connections between Finnish and Japanese culture? They are legion, and strange: Finns and Japanese are the two ethnic groups with the higest incidences of reversed-hemispheric brain activity, i.e. information from the right eye goes to the right side of the brain instead of the reverse (which is the usual way). There are some strange connections between Finnish and Japanese languages, although they come from quite different families. Doing a quick search for "finns and japanese" or "finnish japanese" yields interesting results, though few scholarly ones.
Also, the first foreign-born member of the Diet of Japan is a Finn, Marutei Tsurunen. And here's a webpage about him, which combines Finglish and Engrish in a very charming way.
You can't see it on a Mercator-projection map, but you can see it on a globe: Eurasia is narrower at high latitudes. From Vladivostok to Finland (or vice-versa) is about the same distance as from Vladivostok to the Caspian Sea. Probably more importantly, there were likely fewer people to have to fight your way past when wandering across the far north than at more habitable latitudes.