Tatami Mats – The Japanese Mattress

If you’re looking for a more minimalist lifestyle, you may have found something interesting in your research. 

The Tatami Mat.

I first discovered these mats from a home video we received from our Japanese exchange student. I remember being very intrigued with Japanese culture after seeing how she lived!

The Tatami Mat is essentially a straw mattress that has an extremely low profile. Straw is woven together, and you use a futon for comfort.

They’re natural, with a very small eco-footprint. Plus, they’re beautiful in a way. Let’s learn a bit about Tatami Mats together. 

Tatami mats - The Japanese Mattress

How is a Tatami Mat made?

The video below demonstrates the entire process of the production of Tatami. Like any agricultural product, it starts in the field.

  • Straw is harvested and cut to the appropriate size. 
  • The mat is woven with a mechanical process. It is constantly compressed to make sure it’s sturdy. 
  • After its properly shaped and compressed a machine simply cuts off a block of it.

Traditionally they followed a standard sizing in a proportion of 2:1. Two times the length relative to the width. Nowadays you can find them in a variety of lengths and widths.

What are the benefits of Tatami Mats?

Tatami mats are perfect for something who wants a low profile mattress that is firm. 

If you’ve slept on one before and you’re in love, then it will be a perfect option for you. For me, there is one main benefit. 

1. The eco-footprint is minimal

Regular mattresses today use a laundry list of chemicals, plastics, and other materials. Most of them will end up in a landfill sitting for who knows how long. With this option, you can at least feel happy knowing you’re sleeping on something from a natural base.

If you prefer a firm surface to sleep on, even better. I’m a side sleeper, so finding a thick futon is important for me. There are options for every type of sleeper when it comes to Tatami.

2. They’re lightweight

Another big plus is that they don’t weigh nearly as much as a regular mattress would. If you value mobility then this is another benefit. There are options that fold up as well. To be fair though, weight varies in the quality and material of the mats. There are some heavier varieties out there. 

3. They’re minimalist

If you’ve ever watched MTV Cribs you’ll get a dose of the bedroom scene. Everyone makes a huge deal out of their over-sized and over-accessorized bed. These style of beds are the exact opposite of all of that. 

It’s a simple, clean and natural way of living in my eyes. Plus it will leave you more space in your room.

Finding an Authentic Maker of Tatami

This one took me a little bit of research. But, it turns out there is a reputable source for getting authentic tatami mats. TatamiRoom offers a wide range of products and they have a good reputation. 

Will I have to Sleep on the Floor?

Nope! Furniture makers understand that some people just love these styles of mattresses. There are many styles of frames out there to accommodate someone who likes the aesthetic look and doesn’t want to sleep on the floor. 

Just look for a “tatami platform bed” and you should be set! 

Remember that you aren’t supposed to sleep straight on the mat. Traditionally you will buy a quality futon to pair with your new addition. Don’t skimp on the futon! Your back will thank you for taking the time to find a good one. 

Tatami Mat

Steps to Care for Your Mat

Taking care of your mat will ensure it has a long life. It doesn’t weigh a ton like the mattresses you might be used to in the Western world. So, cleaning it is painless. Just follow these steps. 

  • Vacuum –  Some Tatami owners in Japan will vacuum their mattresses daily. That’s not practical for a lot of people, but it’s a good idea to vacuum it once a week. Since straw has openings, it will “catch” things instead of it sitting on top like it would with a Western-style mattress. 
  • Prevent Mold – Moisture is the one thing that will hamper the lifespan of your mat. As with any natural material, you’ll have to give it a little more care than regular processed goods. Make sure to keep it clean and an eye out for mold. 
  • Humidity – If you live in a very humid environment it might not be the best idea to get one of these due to the previous point. They will hold moisture in humid environments. But, it’s still possible. Japan is humid after all. 
  • Sun Dry- To air out your mattress, consider putting it outside once a week for ten minutes or so. This is done traditionally to let the Tatami breathe and reduce moisture. 

Other Uses for these mats?

The same materials are available for chair cushions, lamps, dividers, screens, floor mats, and even yoga mats. If you plan on using yours for yoga, just make sure to dry it out after.  

In Closing

These style of mattresses have always been appealing to me, and if you’ve read this far I’m glad you feel the same way. 

Buying something that is made naturally can be a nice little ego boost(haha). But, they also look great.

If you decided on getting one, let me know how it works out for you!

peaceful Japanese garden
Author Picture - Conor

Conor

Hey everyone 🙂 My name is Conor. I'm passionate about technology, zen, and improving the quality of life so many of us share at a desk!

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