If you’ve ever visited a traditional Japanese martial arts studio or meditation suite, you may be familiar with woven rush grass flooring known as tatami mats. But according to many of the top decorating magazines, the tatami mats for sale today are just as likely to be purchased by interior design firms and homeowners. Made from 100% organic materials, tatami mats consist of a rice straw core that is both gentle and firm underfoot. The woven rush grass that surrounds the core gives off a lovely scent, especially on humid days.
As the traditional tatami room has been stretched beyond its symbolic roots, it is much easier to find tatami mats for sale at Japanese and Zen furniture shops, but the rich history of tatami is rooted in nobility. In fact, the first known mention of the word “tatami” appeared in the Kojiki, which was published in 712, where it was said to be placed on top of wooden floors for seating nobles. This went on until the end of the Heian Period in 1185, and it wasn’t until the Muromachi period or 16th century, that they were used to cover an entire floor. It was during this era that a new type of Japanese architecture appeared on the scene. Shoin-Zukuri is the style that we now call traditional Japanese design, and it is characterized by the use of tatami-matted floors, shoji partitions and square pillars. Later in the 16th century, tatami style was evident in the design of rustic tea rooms used for Japanese tea ceremonies.
Japanese families didn’t find tatami mats for sale in great numbers until the 17th century, when they began to be seen in the houses of commoners. Apparently, the fabric of tatami mats makes them ideal for the unique climate of Japan, which is cold and dry in winter and hot and humid in the summer. Organic materials like rice straw and rush grass help regulate the interior humidity of a home. They also make it more comfortable to walk around barefoot and sit on the floor, which is required by many Japanese traditions.
Over the past 150 years, the use of tatami mats in Westernized homes has become a major trend, especially on the Asian-influenced cities on the West Coast of the United States. In the West, tatami mats are probably most familiar to anyone who has been in a martial arts dojo — where the mat is given a special, almost sacred, status — but the look, feel and even smell of tatami makes it a material worth considering for any home. Find an excellent selection of tatami mats for sale at Chopa.com.