All about tatami mats

04 Oct 2017 in So Design

Every Japanophile is familiar with tatami mats. But do you know how they’re made? And did you know they start off green?

atami-tatami

Tatami mats are perhaps the quintessential element of Japanese interior décor. You’ll find them lining the floor of most traditional Japanese building, including temples and ryokans.

Ryokan tatami

At HOSHINOYA Tokyo, tatami mats even line the floor of the elevator!

Japanese tatami

And, while tatami is now less common in homes, many people still have a single tatami room, known as the washitsu (Japanese-style room).

HOSHINOYA Tokyo

Making tatami is a time-consuming business. Historically, woven rushes are wrapped around and sewn to a rice straw core. But today, many tatami-makers use a core of compressed wood chips or polystyrene foam.

Why? To avoid the bugs that rice straw can attract.

A single tatami mat usually measures just under 1 metre x 2 metres – although regional variations exist – and contains thousands of rushes. As a finishing touch, the edge of the mat is covered with a decorative brocade.

Japanese interior design

You may be surprised to learn that tatami mats start off green in colour. The more familiar yellow comes with aging. After a few years, the mats are flipped over to offer them new life – and usually need fully replacing within ten years.

Thanks to their natural firmness and springiness, Japanese people traditionally make their beds on tatami, rolling out a thin mattress (a futon) on top of them each night.

You can test the experience for yourself at Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami.

Hoshino Resorts KAi Atami

Japanese ryokan

One last word of advice: don’t forget to take your shoes off! Even slippers are a no-no on tatami mats!

OTHER EXPERIENCES

japanese-kimono

The extraordinary art of kimono dyeing

24 Jan 2018 in So Design

Discover the secret to creating sumptuous kimono designs: the intricate art of Kyo-yuzen! Read more

design-terrace

Aomori Indigo Terrace: new style, old methods

07 Jun 2017 in So Design

Discover how local artists have revived classical indigo-dyeing to create contemporary style for a new terrace at Hoshino Resort Aomoriya. Read more

japanese-ritual-objects-2

A tradition of craftsmanship continues on Taketomi island in Japan

26 Aug 2016 in So Design

Places like Taketomi island are still rare. This preserved island in the South of Japan gathers craftsmen with exceptional skill. Read more

OTHER EXPERIENCES

Japanese lake

3 things you need to know about Shōji, this famous Japanese paper room divider

22 Sep 2016 in So Design

You must have seen them before, perhaps you have even touched them. Shōji, those transparent paper room dividers are an integral part of Japanese interiors. Here are three things you need to know about these very famous panels. Read more

kojima_paper_sculpture

Kirie: the art of paper cutting

06 Feb 2019 in So Design

It’s amazing what can be done with a piece of paper and a precise craft knife! Read more

Design lanterns in Japan

Lanterns: the Japanese ancestors of electric lamps

30 Jun 2016 in So Design

Japanese lanterns are the forebears of electric lamps. Some places even still use them instead of electricity.... Read more

most popular articles