If you mention that you’re thinking of adding a “Tatami room” to your house, most people in the Western world will have no idea what you’re talking about, but not in Japan. The Japanese have made the Tatami mat room into an art form, and this peaceful oasis is something most families wouldn’t dream of living without.
Unlike most homes in the United States and Europe, the Japanese are not looking to show off all their “stuff” and they are masters at creating an uncluttered and serene living space. (As a Westerner, I can’t help but wonder what they do with all their “stuff”. Is there a room in their house that is piled, floor-to-ceiling, with paperwork, books, collectibles and toys?) But if you can picture what the antithesis of a typical family room looks like, with sparse, low-profile furnishings and minimalist décor, then you may have an inkling of what a Tatami mats room looks like.
Most Tatami mat rooms are used as a meditative, or sacred, space in the home; a place where one light a candle, slip into the lotus position, and decompress from the daily stresses of life. Futons and cushions replace sofas and recliners as “furniture” and shoji room dividers replace solid walls. Instead of decorative curtains, windows are dressed with simple rice paper blinds. Artwork is simple and symbolic, usually consisting of a few calligraphy prints or a Sumi ink drawing.
In addition its décor, Tatami mat rooms are covered in “washitsu” sytle, using the classic Tatami mat floor covering that first became popular during the Edo period. Each mat is one to two inches thick and cut into a 3’ x 6’ rectangular shape. Traditional Tatami mats are uniquely crafted from woven rush grass on the outside, and stuffed with rice straw, with brocade covered wood frames around the sides. Organic materials make them especially comfortable and warm underfoot, while providing a natural acoustic panel to absorb sound.
Many interior designers and professional decorators are starting to incorporate Tatami mat room furnishings and Shoji room dividers as a way to create a distinctive and discreet interior space. For the best selection and most competitive pricing on Tatami mat rooms and supplies, Chopa.com is a reliable online resource.