When traveling to Japan, one may have the impression that many homes have tatami flooring.
Many have seen it on movies and television but the truth is tatami flooring has been on the decline as many home owners prefer a western-style of flooring.
But there are a few who prefer having a home, typically a single room where tatami mats are installed (tatami is primarily made of rice straw or compressed wood chips or polystyrene foam).
I visited a friend’s home and we discussed tatami and for them, choosing a home with tatami was important. But learned that many people want to avoid them because they are easily scratched, stained (which makes them hard to clean), ripped or gouged and the price of replacing them is quite expensive.
That’s why it’s important for many home owners of telling you to take off your shoes before entering a tatami room.
Other people don’t like the smell of tatami or sleeping on a futon rested on a tatami.
But for me, I’m always impressed with homes with tatami because it’s part of traditional Japanese culture. They have been around since the Nara period (710-794) and were often used by nobles and samurai.
But by the 17th century, tatami mats became widely used by homeowners and another fact is that there are rules of how a layout of tatami is put into a room because having an inauspicious layout is considered bad luck.
But if you ever visit a home with a tatami, just remember to enjoy what is becoming a rare part of Japanese culture and don’t forget to take off your shoes!