What is Tatami?

The size of Tatami

There are 2 typical types of Tatami which are the rectangle size that is 2:1 aspect ratio, and the square size that is laterally half of rectangle. The basic size is 910mm × 1820mm; however, the size is not always the same since it is common to order pieces that match the dimensions of the room.


The history of Tatami

Since ancient times, most of Japanese cultures are based on a tradition of China, but Tatami is indigenous to Japan. Tatami has been inherited as the most suitable mat for distinct seasonal changes in Japan. Its history dates back to Kojiki that is 1300 years ago. At that time, Tatami is believed to have been used as processed straw. The current shape is from Heian era. By this time, specifications such as the size, thickness, and the color of the border were different, and this is determined people using it.

It had been used only by wealthy people for the room they treated guests to. However, people started to use Tatami to pave the whole room floor from Kamakura era to Muromachi era. It was still a symbol of wealth for aristocracies and samurai.

During the Momoyama era, Sukiya-Zukuri and tea ceremony was developed and spread, then two people started to use Tatami in their houses, but still had an identification restriction. It was after the mid-Edo era that they became available to common people.

Recently, the popularity of Tatami reduced, and Non-Washitsu houses increased in Japan. The popularity of Tatami rose again with the emergence of Ryukyu-Tatami which is usually spread on the floor.

You can choose the size for yourself. There are not only mattresses, but also Tatami beds.


Features of Tatami

Tatami has a layer devised to absorb various sounds as it has both sound and heat insulating effect. It can also be measured to moderate echo downstairs and hallways. It’s appropriate to use in any apartment. Igusa which is soft has an effect to clean the air. New Tatami fragrance is very enticing, and has a great healing effect. Tatami floor, which is made of rice straw, using only natural plant fibers has extremely small amounts of VOC (volatile organic compounds). Therefore, it has an adsorption effect of VOC, and it lessens the indoor VOC concentrations. It’s considered a building material which is suitable to prevent sick house syndrome.


A structure and materials of Tatami

Tatami is structured by Tatami-Doko (inner part of Tatami), Tatami-Omote (Tatami facing) and Tatami-Beri (the edge of Tatami). Basically, Tatami-Doko is made of straws. (The straws set vertically and horizontally and tightened by threads.) Recently, people started to use other materials instead of straws. Tatami-Beri protects Tatami. It has color variations and designs, and changes the atmosphere in a room.


Types of Tatami

Tatami with an edge

It is the most common Tatami. It can be divided in more types by materials that are used.


Tatami without an edge

*Ryukyu Tatami-Face is used for Tatami facing because it is difficult to process the regular Tatami. Technically this type of Tatami is not manufactured by machine, it is hand made by craftsmen.

The trend in recent years is more likely to be used Tatami without an edge for Washitsu, but the recent Part Tatami that is partly put on the flooring is getting popular. At the time of its emergence noble people used Tatami with an edge, and the ordinary people used Tatami without an edge.

But now, Tatami without an edge is worth more than Tatami with an edge because it is difficult to lower the price on materials and skills.


*Ryukyu Tatami

Luxury Tatami-Face is made of Nanasima Igusa. It is very strong, and thus used for Tatami without an edge. Ryukyu Tatami is different from regular Tatami. Ryukyu Tatami has no edge, has a fine stitch, has square shapes and its size is half that of the regular Tatami.



Recently, there have been an invention of Tatamis made of chemical fiber; however, these are not imitations. They are weaved in the same way as the regular Tatami and have Tatami-Edge. They have rich color variations, stronger than real Igusa and able to wipe, therefore it’s good to use for people who have children or pets. However, they are rarely used for old-fashioned Japanese house.

They have no plastic-like texture just because they are synthetic fibers. Unlike Igusa Tatami, you can use them longer because they are colored. Some have an edge; some have no edges like Ryukyu Tatami, and alternatively laying Tatami like Ryukyu Tatami color style makes the room look gorgeous and have a modern taste. Colored Tatami is not flashy although there are many light beautiful colors. Most of the Colored Tatami are made of materials gentle to the skin, and are made to prevent mites and mold.

There is a triangle Color Tatami that can be enjoyed as part of the interior. These Tatamis are clean and hygienic.


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