The remnant population of the aboriginal inhabitants of Nippon. They are a caucasoid race larger than the Nipponese. The men are hairy and sport thick beards. Women wear decorative tattoos around their mouths and on their hands.

Ainu skin color is light while hair color is dark. Eye color ranges from light brown to a striking golden color. Their population have been pushed into the northern reaches of the main island of Honshu and onto the northern island of Hokkaido, borth generally considered inhospitable by the Nipponese.

They have little to do with the everyday world of the samurai.


The dominant caste in Nippon. It is primarily composed of samurai but includes petty land-owners and the ronin (disfranchised samurai). Members of this caste are accorded the priviledge of wearing the dai-sho ("long-short"), a pair of swords consisting of the katana and the wakizashi.


People who are technically outside the castes of Nippon. They are the lowest of the low and society assigns them all of the dirty, unpleasant, and ritually impure tasks.


The lower caste of Nipponese society. Westerners sometimes refer to these folk as peasants, but this caste includes what Europeans would describe as the "middle class" as well. In order of descending social standing, it includes farmers, artisans and craftspeople, and lowly merchants.

Note on Nipponese society: The reason why farmers, artisans and craftspeople are socially ranked over the merchants, are that farmers make things grow from the ground (and are revered for that), while artisans and craftspeople take something (whether tangible or intangible), and make it more desireable, by for instance painting pleasing pictures on pieces of paper. The lowly merchants merely make money on other's prowess by selling merchandise, essentially not displaying any skill worthy of mention.


The Imperial nobles. They rank higher socially than the buke, yet have no real power. Most are bureaucrats within the withered Imperial structure or jaded dilettantes.


The military elite dominating the country as feudal overlords. Specifically, it describes those members of the buke deriving their income from service to a higher lord or by virtue of their own status as great land-owners. Their ethics pervade much of the society.