CHECKME - NOT CONSIDERED CANON AT THIS POINT
Above and beyond the social structure is the Emperor and his imperial household. Below this are the four casts, the shinokosho, which are the gentry (samurai) and the peasants (farmers, artisans and merchants). Below this social structure, or outside of it rather, stand the eta. Their position is such they do not even possess a ranking in the castes.
Samurai, the noble caste, each family headed by a daimyo. Ideally, a daimyo and his samurai protect the village or city of peasants under his care. If required by his king, he would also supply warriors or peasants for wartime efforts or the building/repairing of structures or roads respectively.
Directly contribute to the welfare of the state, and are thus often considered the highest ranking peasant class. Farmers are divided into those who own their land (more important) and tenant farmers (less important).
Ranked below farmers, for they only create products from other products. Although they do not produce food, their works are well respected whether they make cooking pots, anchors, fishing hooks or daisho.
The merchants are ranked the lowest of citizens due to the fact that they do not produce anything, only profit from others' creations. Ironically, the merchant class are often the wealthiest group and hold influence above and beyond their supposed social standing.
- 'Chōnin' means 'townsman', and can refer to both artisans and merchants.