The idea of sleeping close to the ground does not seem appealing, especially if you are used to lying on your soft, comfy bed. So, how about sleeping on a tatami mat? It offers more benefits than you expect. Once you get used to it, the only thing you regret is why you did not know tatami mats sooner.
Have you heard of tatami mats before?
If not, no worries. We provide everything you need to know in this detailed tatami mat buyer’s guide, from its rich history, common applications, benefits, to the 4 best tatami mats on the market.
Let’s get the ball rolling now.
Short History on Tatami Mats
Before discovering its history, do you know what exactly tatami mats are?
The word ‘Tatami’ refers to a unique flooring material in traditional Japanese rooms. Tatami mats are made of Igusa (woven rush straw) wrapped around a rice straw core. There are also modern tatami mats with a core made of polystyrene foam or wood chipboards to avoid attracting bugs as rice straw does.
Nowadays, it is difficult to know the exact year when tatami mats were first produced. People believe that the first tatami mat appeared since at least the Nara period (710-794) as the term was found in the oldest Japanese book ‘Kojiki’, which was written in 712. During the Heian period (794-1185), tatami mats were mainly used as seating and sleeping mats for the nobility and samurai.
Only until the late Muromachi period that people started using tatami mats to cover the whole floors. By the 17th century, tatami became popular; not only nobles but also commoners used tatami at home.
These days, despite the decline in popularity, tatami remains a symbol of Japanese homes. It even made its way into the Japanese language, particularly in a lot of proverbs. For example, one Japanese saying goes ‘half a tatami is enough to stand, and a single tatami is enough to sleep’, which means one should be satisfied with what they have now without desiring more wealth than necessary.
Common Uses of Tatami Mats
As said above, tatami mats are mainly used to cover the floors in traditional Japanese-style homes.
When you stay in a Ryokan – a kind of motels in Japanese, you can sleep in traditional tatami matted rooms. Before you step onto the room, you need to take off your shoes, even slippers, at the entranceway first.
Tatami rooms feature a lot of unique elements such as sliding doors (Fusuma), translucent sliding doors (Shoji), built-in shelves (Chigaidana), built-in desk (Tsuke Shoin), etc.
The use of tatami mats has gone beyond the territory of Japan. In this modern age, you can see tatami in many countries but with different applications. Instead of sleeping on the mats, people stand on it to practice Yoga or martial arts, for example, dojo.
Other than Japanese themed bedrooms, foreigners also use tatami mats in different rooms such as the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom as seating or a piece of decoration. Due to the organic texture and natural look, tatami mats can easily blend in any setting in your home. They are also the perfect choice for those who embrace minimalism in interior design.
Benefits of Sleeping on a Tatami Mat
Tatami mats offer a bunch of benefits for those who sleep on it. Take a look.
First off, tatami mats give off a scent of woven rush, which smells light and pleasant. Lying on a tatami, therefore, makes sleep come naturally to you, and you are able to enjoy a restful sleep as well.
Second, tatami is firm to the touch, keeping your spine properly aligned when you are taking a rest. The aligned spine is the key to a good posture, which aids in better blood circulation as well as better breathing. On top of that, sleeping on a flat surface as a tatami supports your back and neck greatly. You are able to wake up with less pain in muscles and looser joints.
Third, do you want to know the best part of sleeping on a tatami?
It is temperature. Tatami mats are known to be warm during winter and cool during summer. Hence, you will feel completely comfortable sleeping on tatami mats regardless of seasons. That is not to mention the fact that you will save a few bucks on utility bills.
That tatami mat can maintain a perfect temperature is due to its ability to absorb or dissipate moisture accordingly when the humidity levels are high or low. That way, it will provide clean air to your room.
Fourth, tatami mats are durable and long-lasting. With proper maintenance, they can last for years to come.
Last but not least, tatami mats are friendly to both the environment and your budget. Isn’t it great?
Do you feel tempted to buy a tatami sleeping mat right now? Before jumping to the best tatami mats, check out our buying guide to know what aspects you should take into consideration.
Reviews of The Best Tatami Mats for Sleeping on The Floor
1. FULI Japanese Traditional Igusa Tatami Mattress
Topping today’s list is a real tatami mat, which is 100% made from rush grass grown in Japan. Coming from the famous brand of FULI, the mat looks natural and fresh in light green.
It measures a dimension of 39 x 83 x 0.5 inches and 0.5 inches thick. Such a thickness perfectly serves as an underlay for a Japanese futon.
This tatami mattress can be folded into three parts, which means it can fit under the bed or inside the cabinet. In other words, it saves a lot of space in your room. Once needed, just lay out the mat under the Japanese futon and you have a temporary comfortable sleeping place. When you are done, just fold and store it. Really convenient!
There are two available sizes, including Full XL and Twin XL – the one we are mentioning.
2. Oriental Furniture Full-Size Tatami Mat
This mat comes with a slightly different construction.
Like most traditional Japanese tatami mats, this one uses woven rush grass and dried rice straw core, both of which are bound together using twine. Nonetheless, the woven rush is designed with double strength for more resistance against wear and tear. Also, an additional barrier is included in the foundation so that the mat can resist moisture well.
What we love is the unique look of this mat. It bears a straw color with black edging that makes an attractive piece of decoration in your room.
The manufacturer offers a wide range of sizes for this model. The one you find in the attached link is the floor size (36 x 72 inches). You can choose different size options such as Euro King (34.5 x 78.7 inches), Euro Queen (31.5 x 78.7 inches), etc. No matter what you use it for, a tatami mat bed or tatami mat flooring, you will still find a suitable product with Oriental Furniture.
3. IKEHIKO Japanese Traditional Rush Grass Tatami Mattress
Following is the IKEHIKO tatami – one of the best-loved tatami mattresses on the market. Many people give positive reviews about its performance.
The mat is completely made of rush grass; therefore, it offers all the benefits that a traditional Japanese tatami mat does, including sound absorption, heat insulation, etc. Also, the rush grass gives a natural green look to the whole mattress. You can use it as an oriental rug or an underlying mattress, depending on your wish.
On top of that, this folding tatami mat an excellent choice for those who live in a small space. When not in use, simply fold the tatami into three parts and it takes up almost no space.
This IKEHIKO tatami mats are available in three sizes, namely Twin XL (39 x 83 x 0.5 inches), Small Full XL (48 x 28.6 x 1.9 inches), and Full XL (55 x 83 x 0.5 inches).
4. MIINA Tatami Mat
Last but not least, we would like to recommend the MIINA mattress for those who are looking for the best tatami mats to bring home.
This tatami is quite thin, measuring about 0.4 inches thick only. Therefore, it is not as bulky as most tatami mats. You can bring it to a picnic or your Yoga class with ease. It is also foldable, making storage a breeze.
Made of rush grass, the MIINA tatami is able to absorb moisture as well as control humidity. It also improves your sleep quality greatly. Isn’t it too good to be true for a sleeping mat?
You can choose between two sizing options, namely Twin and Full.
Tatami Mat Alternative
When people talk about tatami mat alternatives, they are probably referring to bamboo mats, which possess an extremely similar look and vibe to tatami mats.
Bamboo mats are a cheap alternative to tatami mats, but it does not necessarily mean that they are bad as a flooring material. In contrast, bamboo mats themselves have a lot of benefits.
For example, bamboo mats are eco-friendly and add an earthy touch to any setting. Plus, they feel firm with a non-slip quality. You can place bamboo mats at the door as doormats or use them to cover the floors in kitchen areas, bedrooms, living rooms, etc.
One of the best tatami mat alternatives must be the iDesign Formbu bamboo floor mat. It is made of natural bamboo with a fabric border. The unique thing about this model is it comes with a non-skid underside and water-resistant coating. Best of all, it is dirt cheap, costing only a couple of bucks. A real bargain!
How To Choose a Tatami Mat
There are two main types of tatami mats on the market, namely traditional tatami and tatami alternatives.
Traditional tatami mats are the ones referred to from the very beginning of this article. They are made of rush grass around a rice straw core. These days, all tatami must undergo the sterilization process to be eligible for exportation to different countries, especially the US.
This is the go-to option when you want to get a genuine Japanese vibe or a tatami mat bed. However, if you want cheap tatami mats, you can also look for its alternatives, which look nearly the same but with fewer benefits.
Depending on your purpose of use, you can choose a suitable size of tatami mats. Tatami mats are available in four common sizes. There are other sizing options as well, but less popular.
- Dimensions (in): 35.5 x 35.5 x 2.25 inches
- Weight (lbs): 34-44 lbs
Half-size tatami mats are often used as a platform for mediation. Sometimes, people use them to cover the floors of small rooms.
- Dimensions (in): 35.5 x 79 x .25 inches
- Weight (lbs): 4-6 lbs
A folding tatami mat is space-saving and highly portable. It makes the ideal choice if you want to buy a Yoga mat.
- Dimensions (in): 71 x 35.5 x 2.25 inches
- Weight (lbs): 65-85 lbs
Standard size is mainly used as a tatami sleeping mat.
- Dimensions (in): 38 x 80 x 2.25 inches
- Weight (lbs): 70 lbs
This is the largest one out of the four. It is the perfect size to spread in a large room. Also, king-size tatami is used as a base for Japanese futon and platform beds of the same size.
Tatami mats come in a wide variety of designs and colors. There is no rule to this, your style and your needs will get to decide. So, feel free to choose the one that suits your preference.
Warning: do not buy a tatami in a grid pattern, as it is used when mourning and people believe it brings bad luck.
How to Clean Tatami Mat
The fact that tatami mats are difficult to maintain is partly the reason why its uses have declined sharply over the past years. But as long as you know how to clean the tatami mat, you will be able to do it effortlessly.
Prior to the instructions, note down a few things below.
- Clean along the line of the tatami
- Do not use baking soda
- Do not use harsh chemicals and cleaners
- Do not leave moisture on the mattress
Read on to know specific ways to clean tatami mats.
Sweeping with a broom is the easiest and quickest way to clean a tatami mat.
Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust on your tatami.
Remember to move the vacuum gently along the grain of the tatami. When it comes to brushing rotation, select the ‘weak’ mode. Pushing and pulling hard do not help you to deep clean the mat. In contrast, you run a risk of damaging the construction of tatami.
After vacuuming, take a dry cloth to wipe clean the mat. Do not use a wet cloth, unless the tatami is noticeably dirty.
Wiping the tatami mats using a wet cloth dipped in vinegar is the last solution you resort to when they get dirty.
Let us show you how to do it.
First, fill the bucket with water. Do not use boiling water, or else the tatami might be damaged. Then, add a teaspoon of citric acid or vinegar into the water. Stir to mix well. Next, dip the wet cloth in the mixture and squeeze hard before using it to wipe the tatami. When finishing, wipe dry the tatami with a dry cloth. Remember to dry the mat well and do not leave any moisture to prevent mold and fleas from growing on it.
4. Mold cleaning
Simply spray the mat with an anti-bacterial solution. Do not forget to wipe dry it with a dust cotton cloth.
Below are a few tips to avoid the growth of mold on your tatami.
- Use a dehumidifier if the humidity levels are high in your living space.
- Wipe the tatami mats often using a dry cloth.
- Leave your windows slightly open to improve air circulation.
- Regularly check for signs of mold in your room.
Tatami mats are an integral part of traditional Japanese homes. Since it offers a variety of benefits, it is now widely used in many different countries. You can use it as a sleeping mat, Yoga mat, or a piece of decoration to add a touch of Zen to your room.
If you want to buy a quality tatami mat, read the buying guide carefully and choose one out of four suggestions above.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, we are always willing to help. Stay tuned for more informative posts.