Tatami mats are the traditional flooring used in Japan. Originally, tatami was only used amongst the rich and upper class but during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) they became more commonly used. They gradually became used in larger rooms and amongst a variety of economic classes. Not all rooms in Japanese homes use tatami flooring, especially in modern Japan. The rooms that do use tatami flooring are called washitsu. Tatami mats consist of three distinct parts: the tatami-doko 畳床 which is the base, the tatami-omote 畳表 which is the cover, and the tatami-fuchi 畳縁 which is the edge of the tatami mat.
There are different types of tatami-doko. While it is traditionally made with compressed rice straw it can also be made with light building materials such as styrofoam. The natural straw base is called wara-doku and is considered to be the highest quality tatami-doko. It has superior humidity control, is more durable, and provides excellent thermal insulation. Another type of tatami-doko is the sandwich base technique using styrofoam. This method uses polystyrene sandwiched between straw. It has a similar feeling to the natural base but is lighter. This method utilizes gomoku (crushed straw) in opposition to the straw lengths used in the natural base. Another common variation is the kenzai-doku (building material). This method is not natural but is cheaper and lighter. However, due to the materials used this method is not nearly as durable as the natural wara-doku base.
The tatami-omote is the cover of the tatami mats and is traditionally made with hemp or cotton. The strength and durability of the weaving string determines how strong the omote is. Hemp is considered to be the strongest. The omote provides many benefits. For starters it naturally filters the air and absorbs carbon dioxide. Additionally, it expels moisture from the room and helps to regulate temperature and humidity in a space. Overall, they help to provide a relaxing and healthy living environment.
The final section is the tatami-fuchi. This is simply the cloth wrapped around the edge of tatami mats in order to hide the woven areas. This cloth comes in a variety of patterns and colors. Here at J-Life we use a traditional black cloth for tatami-fuchi.
J-Life is proud to offer durable well made tatami mats. Our tatami mats are constructed of Japanese Rush Grass with a double top layer for extra protection. The inside is a baked Dried Rice Straw Fill for strength and durability. Each mat is sewn with a black fabric border and bound with twine. Furthermore, a moisture resistant barrier is included in the foundation of the mat.