Japan’s tatami mats, a home-grown tradition


For a few generations, the Morita family has been wrapping, stitching and trimming modular blocks of woven grass, regarded as tatami, in Tokyo’s outdated downtown. But now, beset by cheap knockoffs and switching life, the craftsmen have been forced to up their sport.

Stitching tatami  mats at Takashi Morita workshop in Tokyo. 

CBS Information

In addition to standard grass and straw mats, they now supply low-routine maintenance synthetic options.

And they have been forced to seek prospects much from property, like giving a gentle runway for a Paris trend display …

H&M : Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019
Sights of the runway at the H&M present in the course of Paris Vogue Week, February 28, 2018 in Paris.

Stephane Cardinale, Peter White/Getty Pictures

… or furnishing the mats for a Bond villain’s minimalist lair…

Lyutsifer Safin’s lair in the Bond thriller “No Time to Die.”

EON Productions/MGM

Artisan Takashi Morita, who provided the flooring, claimed he was taken aback: “When James Bond prostrates himself so very low his head touches the tatami, that was a very little surprising,” he instructed correspondent Lucy Craft.

Shocking, since in Japan, tatami is synonymous with shoes-off relaxation, specifically at region inns like the Okasen.

Proprietor Takako Ota stated tatami’s unique fragrance is component of the attract: “Tatami has the similar soothing outcome as herbs, like rosemary,” she reported. “The aroma assists minimize tension.”

Classic tatami mats at the Okasen inn. 

CBS News

Tatami epitomizes the sustainable way of life of previous Japan, where almost very little went to waste. Even these days, worn-out tatami can be chopped up and utilised for compost.

Japan-primarily based architect Azby Brown said the gold-coloured ground mats are correctly suited for human habitation: “It reminds me of a freshly-mowed lawn,” he explained. “It feels like becoming outdoor. It actually makes you really feel like it truly is alive.”

Once a luxury permitted only to emperors and aristocrats, tatami went mainstream all around the 17th century, enabling a family members to reside perfectly even in just a one room. Stated Brown, “It would make the complete place into kind of a huge bed, a place for reclining, a large, cushioned area exactly where you can sit or just unwind wherever you like. People understood, wow, this is a definitely great way to dwell.”

But throughout the country at another outdated workshop, artisan Kenze Yamada claims tatami will have to transcend simple flooring. His important to the preservation puzzle: creating tatami an artwork sort in its own correct. Many thanks to clever positioning and use of light, the 200 tatami jigsaw parts of this dragon seem to be different hues.

Artist Kenze Yamada utilizes tatami to make textured jigsaw puzzle mats that reflect light at distinctive angles.  

CBS News

“Like textiles, tatami have a textured surface area,” he reported. “By various the angle of the weave, I can adjust how the parts mirror mild, making the illusion of white, environmentally friendly, silver or gold.”

There are indications of a tranquil tatami resurgence. Though family members like the Moris have embraced carpets and hardwood flooring, they have set aside one space for tatami — grasping a straw website link to a thousand-12 months-old tradition.


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Tale produced by Lucy Craft. Editor: Randy Schmidt. 

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