Daily life in Japan like much of the ancient world was very different for the wealthy then for the common people. The ruling elite was made up of heriditary leaders of the various clans. The artistocrats led lives of leisure. There were elaborate court rituals that defined day to day life. In addition, the artistocrats roots were usually in the landed estates. During most of Japan's history, that often meant being involved in local warfare. The samurai's Japans warrior class were considered members of the minor elite.
Below the nobility, lived the great mass of the population. Most were peasants. They did not own there own land, but paid taxes or rent, to either the state or to a noble family. If they could not pay their taxes they could sink to the level of genin or landless laborer, whose status was almost that of a slave.
On the very bottom of the social ladder were the eta. They were a class of heriditary slaves whose responsibility it was, to undertake the degrading occupation such as curing leather or burying the dead that no other Japanese would do.