A Japanese term tatami from the verb tatamu, meaning to fold or pile. A tatami (畳?) is a type of mat used as a flooring material in Japanese homes or Asian style rooms. Traditionally made of rice straw to form the core (though nowadays sometimes the core is composed of compressed chip boards or foam, (heaven forbid), with a covering of woven rush a finishing touch on the long sides is an edging of brocade or plain cloth.
Tatami were originally a luxury item for the nobility and higher classes. Tatami gradually became more popular and finally reached the homes of commoners toward the end of the 17th century. And over the past 40 years or so have been widely used in Western Europe, both in peoples homes and “dojo’s” where martial arts is practised.
A half mat is called a hanjō, and a mat of three-quarter length daimedatamiwhich is used in tea-ceremony rooms, 4.5 mats in size or 7.45 sq.mts. The size of tatami differs between different regions in Japan. Shops were traditionally designed to be 5½ mats or 9+ sq. mt.. There are rules concerning the number of tatami mats and their layout in a room. In the Edo period, “auspicious” and “inauspicious” tatami arrangements developed and the tatami would be arranged depending on the occasion.
Nowadays, the “auspicious” layout is ordinarily used. In this arrangement, the junctions of the tatami form a “T” shape; in the “inauspicious” arrangement a grid pattern, here the junctions form a + shape. An inauspicious layout is said to bring bad fortune. In Japanese homes the mats must not be laid in a grid pattern, in any layout there is never a point where the corners of four mats touch.
Whatever the Asian customs there’s no doubt the use of Tatami Mats is spreading and folks from all over the world see how versatile and inexpensive their cost.
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