Shoji Styles

Shoji > Tatami

Tatami in Japan

"Tatami" is a Japanese word meaning "woven rush mat" Although in many rooms in Japanese houses the furnishings have taken on a western air with the use of sofas and chairs for example, the tatami remains a fundamentally important aspect of Japanese culture as expressed in interior decoration.

Tatami Rooms in Japanese Houses

The tatami mat is most often used in the "zashiki" either used as a drawing room or guest room in Japanese homes. In imperial Japanese times the zashiki was a room primarily for formal meetings of samurai and usually a large room of 18 tatami mats however in modern homes a zashiki of 8 tatami is more common. Even the most modern houses today are still likely to have a zashiki.

Largely because tatami can be scratched easily other items of furniture in japanes zashiki are not commonly found. There is likely to be only low tables, zabuton cushions, and futons for nightime. Additionally there may be a tansu chest of drawers or a wooden sideboard. Dating back to ancient times there is also to be found Buddhist altars and a "tokonoma" in the zashiki. A tokonoma is a space used for hanging a scroll (kakejiku) and displaying decorations or flowers (ikebana).

Room Separators

Japanese rooms are traditionally separated by shoji room screens which are sliding doors and screens made of a wooden frame with rice paper stretched over it. Some room screens have come to be known as tatami screens although this is strictly speaking not correct historically.

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