June 22, 2015

by Sae Nagata and Maiko Hotehama

Kyoto is famous for Tea and Temples but we researched about Tatami, because there are used a lot of structures and is closely connected to Tea room.

What is Tatami ?
Tatami is one of the materials used in Japan from ancient times. It did not come from China, but originated in Japan. You can see Tatami in Japanese style room. Tatami has an important role in houses in Japan.

Tatami has a long history. It’s history goes back to Jomon era, 13,000 years ago. People would lay straw and board on the floor in their pit dwelling. After that, in Heian era, the original form of Tatami was made, and in Muromachi era, spreading tatami all over became common among people. In Azuchi-Momoyama era, behavior and manner in Japanese style room was established because of tea ceremony, one of the traditional cultures in Japan. The ordinary people came to use Tatami, so consumption of Tatami increased in Edo era. Now, in modern society, western style houses are more common than Japanese ones, but almost all of the houses in Japan have at least one Japanese style room.

They are a lot of kinds. For example, Edoma and Kyoma. Kyoma’s size is 955mm×1910mm. It arise at Kyoto and expand to Kansai region. Next,Edoma expand around Kantou region. Edoma’s size is 880mm×1760mm. Recently, we can choose material, color, and size ourselves.

Traditional material are rush and straw. Tatami’s structure divide into large two parts. There are Waratoko and Tatamiomote. Waratoko is a wick and made of hard rice. It include Tatamitoko at traditional Tatami. But, recently we get difficult to material and careful about hygienic. So, we use compress wood chips and Styrene more and more. Tatamitoko is most important part, made of dried straw only. Tatamiomote means surface. It is made of rush and straw.

First, we measurement of Tatamiomote and Tatamitoko, same sizes. Second, we cut these and cloth together neatly. Third, we sew up edge.
The thread we use is either hemp or silk. Recently, we use kind of propylene and vinyl. Fourth, we staple at corner. Finally, we sew up there. It’s complete.
The materials change, but the method does not. So everyone can use Tatami safely. The tatami edge has a lot of patterns and luxurious ones are sewn with a very complex pattern. They must not break when spread all over them. So, we are careful about sewing up the edge. This is one of amazing part about at a manufacturing process.

Traditional respect
Traditionally, the master usually sits higher than his or her retainer place. So Tatami are put on high place. There is one type of room at Nijo castle. You can see it in this picture.
So master can look down retainer, but it use for Emperor and Emperor’s messenger sometimes. Then, Master doesn’t sits high place. It expression of respect for master and Emperor. Next, we don’t step edge. There are 3 reasons.  First, it means one of discipline in tea ceremony. Next, we step there is rude to ancestor because, sometimes these edge patterns are family crests. This picture is edge patterns.


Final, they are damaged easily. So we need to take good care for Tatami.These are manners. And above mentioned show consideration for each other.

Tatami is elastic, absorb sound about sound steps. And they have absorbent and gush moisture. So, they are cool at summer and warm at winter. They can reduce toxic substance in the air. They are nature color, so we can sight relax because it smells good. They include ingredient same such as Tea and Vanilla. It is called Natural aromatherapy. Some people believe that Tatami can promote children’s concentration.

Young generations are decrease about opportunity for feel Tatami but, a lot of Japanese honor the Tatami, which has continued to take over tradition and we never walk on it with our shoes. In fact, there are many historically important scenes where we see Tatami. Tatami have a long history, a lot of type and merit.
I think they can reduce toxic substance in the air, and the like CO2. They are wonderful things. Recently, Tatami are become popular over the world. So, some Tatami’s shops are started conduct to overseas company.  We should use Tatami more and more.


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