Tatamis - the symbol for the Japanese style of living

In ancient and rural Japan, tatamis are used as flooring in traditionally de-signed rooms, the so-called washitsu. Tatamis are insulating and cush-ioning mats made of rice straw. Since a tatami mat is quite sensitive,

it is only used barefoot or with socks in Japan. The core of the tatami mat is rice straw, onto which a rush mat is fixed with cotton bands sewn on the sides. In Japan, the flutter rush is used for this purpose (jap. Igusa).

Tatami-Matten als Fussboden

Tatami - An example of a classic floor covering in traditional Japanese houses

Since tatami mats are made of natural materials only, they smell accord-ingly and can be recycled. The simplicity and aesthetics of tatami mats, to-gether with the typical Japanese Shoji sliding walls, create a very special charm in your home. If you have ever been allowed to walk on an original tatami mat, you have certainly noticed the pleasant surface texture. It is not for nothing that the natural rice straw mats have been popular as a floor covering in Japanese houses for a long time. They create a pleasant room climate, insulate in winter when temperatures are low, and cool pleasantly when it is warmer.

Tatami Reisstrohmatte Detail

What is the composition of a tatami mat?

Tatami cross section


Futonwerk on Youtube - Tatami

Tatami mats consist of three components. For centuries, the production of these floor mats has been done in three steps.

  • In the first step, the core of the tatami mat is pressed from several layers of rice straw. The core of the mat is called Tatami-Doko.
  • Next, a rush mat tied from Igusa grass is wrapped around the rice straw core, the so-called Tatami-Omote.
  • • Afterward, the edges of the tatami mat are bordered with a textile band, which is called Tatami-Beri.

Nowadays, for cost reasons, the core is often alternatively made of a rice-straw-foam mixture.

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The size of our tatami mats.

Traditionally, the measurements of the tatami are given. In Japan, tatami is even used as a unit of measurement, for example, the size of an apart-ment is given in tatami units. Tatamis are measured in Ken.

Tatamis Grössen

The use of tatamis

Originally, tatamis were used by the nobility as sleeping and sitting pads. Later, whole living rooms were laid out with the rice straw mats. Today, this type of traditional interior decoration is no longer quite so common, but there is still at least one room in many Japanese homes that is lined with tatami mats.

Tatami mats are also used in Japanese martial arts, such as judo or karate. To cushion throws and fall techniques, the 5.5cm thick mats are mainly used for this purpose.

At home, tatamis are the perfect complement to a futon. To use tatamis as a base for a futon, they can either be laid directly on the floor or in a spe-cial tatami frame. If you want to use tatamis as a floor mat under the futon bed, the futon should be made of cotton or virgin sheep's wool. If a tatami frame is used, it is important to ensure that the tatami mat lies evenly and smoothly on the floor and that it is not placed too low in the frame with the futon, to ensure good ventilation of the futon.

Normally a tatami is half a ken wide and one ken long. Although the most common measurement for this is 1.80m, the length of a ken can vary be-tween 155cm and 191cm, depending on the region.

A tatami mat is usually 4.5 cm thick (standard pressing) or 5.5 cm (HQ/High Quality). There are also thinner mats in the trade, which are cor-respondingly cheaper, but also not as durable.

Since the demand for the rice straw mats has also increased in Europe, they are available in more common sizes such as 100 x 200cm, 90 x 200cm, 80 x 200cm, 70 x 200cm, as well as 90 x 180cm and of course 90 x 90cm.

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Tatamis mit Futons

Tatami mat with "Twin Futon“

How are tatamis maintained?

  • 1. If the tatami is used as a base for a futon mattress, the futon should ideally be rolled up daily to allow the moisture that forms at night due to heat and sweat to dry off.

  • 2.The tatami mats can be vacuumed at the lowest level with a vacuum cleaner, preferably with the cushion attachment. It may happen that foxing or mold spots will form on the mats if they are laid in a room where conden-sation moisture builds up. This is often the case in basement apartments or if ventilation is not carried out frequently enough.

  • 3. If some mold has formed, the mats can be carefully wiped damp. Afterward, it must be ensured that they can dry completely before you enter them again or put a futon on them.

  • 4. As soon as the sun shines in spring and the temperature rises, the mats can be placed outside for a few hours to air them.

  • 5. Since tatamis are made in China and therefore have a long journey, being well-packed, the tatami mats need a few days to air out after unpacking, preferably at room temperature.

What should be considered when using tatamis?

Tatami mats are products made of natural materials. That means they can vary slightly in color, become paler over time, and have a natural scent that reminds of hay and straw.

Since the rice straw mat is quite sensitive to friction, it should not be stepped on with shoes. If it is used as a floor covering, this should also be taken into consideration when designing the room. Furniture that has to be moved of-ten, like chairs at the dining table, should be avoided for the sake of the ta-tami's durability.

The mats also react very sensitively to punctual loading, which is why only furniture with a large contact surface should be chosen.

Tatamis serve as a carpet pad for a futon purely for the optical purpose of delimiting the sleeping area or protecting the futon from dirt. The lying quali-ty remains unaffected by this.

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