How tatami mats are made

How tatami mats are made

 Our tatami mats are made in Japan by second and third generation tatami craftsmen using high quality plant-based materials.

The top of the tatami mat is called the omote. The omote is made of high quality woven igusa rushes which are grown and harvested in Japan and have been used in Japanese textiles for over 2000 years.

Immediately after harvesting the igusa, the rushes are dyed by immersing the rushes in water infused with a natural Japanese clay which coats the soft rushes. When dried, this dyeing process leads to uniform color tone in the igusa and turns golden yellow as it ages. After dyeing, the rush grass is put away for up to a year to dry before being used to make the omote.

Once the igusa is sufficiently dry the craftsmen carefully choose uniform igusa rushes of similar length and width and they are woven together to make the omote. Each tatami omote requires thousands of individual rushes.

The core or base of the mats (the doko) are made from multiple layers of Japanese rice straw (wara) which is piled carefully (up to 50 cm high) and then highly compressed down to approximately 5cm thick to form a stable, uniform base. The high quality natural bases of our tatami have a fixed thickness, without any unevenness on the surface of the base. The compressed straw is tightly sewn to keep it in place.

The bases are measured and cut to a clean edge and the omote covering is then sewn onto the base using natural cotton thread and bound in place by the natural edging material called heri.

The heri protects the edges and corners of the mat while giving a decorative accent. Many heri patterns are based on traditional Japanese designs, but with modern times have come more modern heri patterns.

The final step is to add a protective moisture shield on the bottom of the tatami – a modern adaptation to help prevent mold and protect your hand-crafted tatami mat.

Read how to use tatami mats with mattress and futon.


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