Hân Rokugan is a stratified, hierarchical society. The following is an abbreviated version of the main divisions. Everyone in the Empire knows and undertsands these divisions and any kind of class warfare or attempts to buck this ‘natural order’ a recompletely out of place in this setting.
The samurai, or ruling class, represent around 1 in 100 of the total population of 33 million. The rest fit into the lower orders where they labour to keep the Empire alive.
Samurai, ‘Those who serve’.
Emperor. The Emperor of Rokugan was a member of the samurai caste, and held its highest position. He owned all the land in the Empire, and allowed those who owed him fealty to manage these lands for him. The Emperor was also the head of Rokugan’s religion, and was believed to be the voice of the Celestial Heavens
Kuge. The Kuge were the most elite of the samurai caste,. They were landed nobility and occupied powerful offices within the government. The Emperor was the highest member of the Kuge, and ranking just below him were functionaries such as the Voice of the Emperor, the Emerald Champion, the Jade Champion, the Imperial Chancellor and the Imperial Advisor. A special case was that of the rank of Shogun, who ranked just above the rest of the Kuge, but just below the Emperor.
Buke. The majority of samurai were members of the Buke, those who were not awarded lands or titles but served other samurai. These samurai were normally allowed to bear the name of their house; as an example few members of the Matsu family were actual, direct descendants of Matsu. Below these in rank were the vassal families, such as the Ikeda vassal family of the Matsu family. The highest ranking members of the Buke served as provincial governors, hatamoto, karo, city governors, Emerald Magistrates and so forth. Other offices such as the myriad tasks involved in a garrison, a castle keep or the support and ordering of a legion were the province of lower ranking samurai. The lowest of the Buke were the Ji-Samurai, or “half samurai”.
Ronin. The lowest of the ji-samurai were ronin, who were samurai by birth or circumstance who had no lord to serve. These men and women almost always invoked distrust and disgust among other samurai.
Ashigaru. The absolute lowest of the Buke, even below ji-samurai, were Ashigaru. They were career soldiers, technically peasants, but more trained than an average farmer or carpenter in combat skills. While not equal to samurai on the field at all, they were skilled warriors in their own right. Ashigaru did not wear daisho, but were allowed to carry weapons in the course of their duties. Many ashigaru families served their lord for generations.
Clergy, ‘Those who pray’.
Shugenja. Shugenja are nearly always of the samurai caste. Those non-samurai who show potential in the magical arts are generally either taken in by the Brotherhood of Shinsei and become monks, or else are adopted by one of the clans and made samurai. Shugenja are those that can speak with the kami (animistic spirits of nature). They are the priests of the kami no michi (based on traditional Japanese animism, latterly known as Shinto) religion.
Monks. Monks are not samurai. They occupy their own place in the Celestial Order. Most monks are members of the Brotherhood of Shinsei and are the empire’s guides in the religion of Shinseism (based on Japanese interpretation of Tao).
Bonge, ‘Those who work’, aka heimin or ‘Half people’.
Farmer. The highest station within the Bonge was the farmer, whose work fed the Empire.
Artisan. Craftsmen and manufacturers of all kinds. Some, such as sword makers, become famous and feted for their talents. Included here would be most professional activities that add value to primary produce.
Merchants. Lowest of the heimin, merchants add nothing to the economy, only inflating prices and distorting supply and demand realities. They are tolerated as a necessary evil in getting goods from source to consumer.
Criminals, entertainers, charlatans, gamblers and geisha were all part of the Hinin class. Eta, those that dealt with corpses and such unclean trades as tanning are a sub-division of Hinin. They have their own administration and have no particular rights other than those granted out of personal whim from the higher castes.
Here is a quick chart I made to show the demographic, using the 1 to 100 ratio.