The Japanese class system was composed of four-tiers with other groups of higher power settled on top. This system was made up of samurai, farming peasant, artisans, and merchants. This system was meant to reinforce order and set a high standard for public morale. Classes weren't arranged by wealth but rather moral philosophies in Buddhism.
EMPEROR AND SHOGUN Emperors and shoguns were settled at the top of the social hierarchy. Though, the emperor held the highest position he had no political power whatsoever. The shogun actually held all the power and ruled over the most land. The emperor was more of like a god to the people.
To watch a documentary on Japanese lords and vassals click here.
DIAMYOS Diamyos were powerful warlords, though, a diamyo couldn't do anything without permission from the shogun first, he couldn't even marry without permission. To prevent them from becoming too wealthy they were made to pay for damages inflicted on castles, forts, and roads. Lands were distributed by the shoguns in order for them to provide military service to Japan.
SAMURAI Samurais were very respectable warriors which explains why they were at the top of the social class. They had a strict code of honor "the way of the warrior", or bushido, and if broken they were expected to commit a ritual suicide, otherwise known as seppuku. Samurai sought out to establish justice and security throught the land.
To learn more about the Samurai Code there's and e-book available online here.
FARMING PEASANTS Peasant life was basically just rural, they never strayed too far from their farms. Farmers that own their own land to farm ranked higher in the class than other farmers who did not. This class made up 90 percent of the population which means that they automatically assume the position of the backbone of feudal society. Though, they struggled daily they did have a chance to rise up and become a samurai, but that was rare.
ARTISANS Artisans made everything by hand. Their amazing craftsmanship had allowed them to get a great sum of income. They were amongst the wealthiest despite their level in the class system. Those who constructed swords and armor provided necessary goods to samurai. They also provided other goods that merchants could sell.
MERCHANTS In a normal social system, merchants usually would never be at the very bottom. This is the case in Japan because merchants earned they're wealth without producing their own goods, but rather selling things that artisans made. Although, they were at the very bottom of the social class, like artisans, they were the most wealthy. If merchants appeared too wealthy the government would confiscate their business.