Feb 8


WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

In Japan measures are being taken to address the phenomenon of 畳離れ (tatami banare), or moving away from tatami.  Many of us probably saw it when we lived over there, as friends’ houses were largely Western style except for the token 和室 (washitsu), or Japanese style-room.  In order to make sure this integral part of the culture does not disappear, a certification has been created for eligible tatami craftsman which gives them the title of “doctor.”

One such craftsman in the prefecture of Tochigi, who estimates that over the last 29 years he has worked on more than 120,000 mats, received his certification just last year.  He is now called a 「畳ドクター」 (tatami doctor), a designation that he admits he is not quite used to.  However, like an MD he diagnoses problems in the tatami at the houses of his “patients” and even takes notes on a 畳カルテ (tatami karute) or “tatami medical record.”  Based on this diagnosis, he tells them when the mats need changing, carries out the old tatami and replaces them with new ones.  There are about 700 such certified tatami doctors across the country.

Many creative twists are being employed to help keep tatami as a part of Japanese homes, such as raising a section of the floor and covering it with tatami to make a tatami bed.  I assume you would put your futon on top as you would in a regular tatami room, but the fact that the area is raised gives the sensation of sleeping in a bed.  Another concept is 「モダン乱敷き」 (modan ranjiki) or modern jumbled style.  This is shown in the picture above, where a mix of full and half tatami mats are used as well as three different colors.  Will such innovations be able to prevent 畳離れ?  

2 comments so far...

  • leesean Said on February 10th, 2010 at 10:08 pm:

    I would choose tatami over carpet any day. I am all for twists on tradition though, like the multicolor panels in the photo.

  • stacyasmith Said on February 10th, 2010 at 11:15 pm:

    Yes, I really like the way they look! Wouldn’t mind trying the tatami bed either…

Page Rank