For centuries, tatami mats have been a standard furnishing in homes throughout Asia, and they have gradually made their way into the décor of Western living spaces. Some things may have changed over the years, such as the tatami mat size and the way Japanese tatami mats are used, but the overall effect of this ancient Japanese floor covering has remained the same. Over the years, Tatami mats have come to symbolize the Asian aesthetic for Japanese home decor.
Before you consider buying these mats, tatami culture must first be understood. Originally, the tatami mat was only offered to nobility as a seat of honor, but they eventually became a traditional style of Japanese flooring. The word “tatami” actually means “piled” or “folded”, which is indicative of how the rice straw was once formed into the core of the mat. Today’s methods are more likely to include the use of compressed chip board or polystyrene foam cushioning inside, but they are still covered with a soft woven fabric or straw. The long sides usually have edging, known as heri, that is made of cloth or brocade.
What is interesting to note about tatami mats is the precise measurement and prescribed arrangement of the mats in a traditional Japanese tatami mat room. New homes built in modern-day Japan often have very few tatami-floored rooms, if any, but most homes have at least one room that features tatami flooring and other traditional Japanese décor, such as Shoji doors and screens. These aesthetically pleasing rooms are called nihonma or washitsu, meaning “Japanese-style rooms”. The best way to create your own tatami room is to purchase a Complete Tatami Room Kit, which also includes a Shoji Door Kit to complete the look.