What Is the Purpose of a Tatami Room?

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A tatami room is a fixture in washitsu, or traditional Japanese interior design. The tatami room, with its simple furnishings and open atmosphere, can bring the Far East into any Western home.

Facts

  • A tatami room takes its name from the tatami mat, which is one of the room's predominant features. Constructed from rice straw, a traditional tatami mat measures 3 feet by 6 feet and is used to provide comfort for sitting or sleeping.

History

  • Dating as far back as the 700s, tatami mats became a symbol of social status during ancient Japanese times. Only the wealthy could afford to rest on tatami mats. Commoners were forced to sit on the bare floor.

Features

  • Aside from the traditional mats, a tatami room also features low ceilings, futons or cushions for furniture, rice paper blinds and thin privacy screens called shoji instead of walls.

Uses

  • The open feel of a tatami room provides relaxation and peace of mind. In traditional Japanese culture, a tatami room often served to entertain visitors, conduct tea ceremonies, or house a religious altar. The room's airy design, straw mats and simple décor also helped alleviate the humid Japanese summers.

Fun Facts

  • The term tatami is derived from the Japanese word "tatumu," meaning "fold." Respect for tatami mats also started the tradition of removing one's shoes before entering a tatami room.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of "中十洋
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