Japanese-style rooms

Japanese-style rooms are called washitsu
and have floors covered with tatami mats.


Tatami is derived from a verb tatamu which means to fold or to pile.
It shows us that the original tatami was used in different way.
The oldest description is seen in Kojiki,
the oldest history book in Japan written in 712.

In olden times tatami were used only by high status people.
When you see the pictures of "hyakunin isshu "(Japanese traditional cards),
you will find emperors or nobles sitting on tatami
which were used as isolated pieces in the Heian period (794 - 1191).

Tatami are arrenged by the following rules:
1: The corners of four tatami mats should not meet at one point
2: There should not be a line that bisects the tatami layout
either vertically or horizontally
(a line like this resembles an image of harakiri )
3: Only one half size tatami should be used per room.

In the old days, the arrangement were changed
depending on the ceremonies.
But, Now in all the houses, tatami are always set like the examples in yellow
for auspicious ceremonies.

4.5 tatami room
6 tatami room
8 tatami room
These arrangements are for auspicious ceremonies.

These arrangements were
for funeralsor sad ceremonies.


There size of the tatami depends on the area it's found in.
Aside from these sizes, recently, there's also a small apartment
comlpex size which has become available.

area tatami size
(Nagoya, Gifu, Fukushima, and Yamagata, a part of Hokuriku, area)
1.82 X 0.91 m
(6.0 X 3.0 ft)
(Kyoto, Osaka,Chuugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu area)
1.91 X 0.95 m
(6.3 X 3.15 ft)
(Kantou, Toufoku, Hokkaidou, and almost all over Japan)
1.76 X 0.88 m
(5.8 X 2.9 ft)
(for apartments by Housing and Urban Development Corporation)
1.65 X 0.75 m
X 2.46 ft)


( small tokonoma for appartments)

Tokonoma is an decorative alcove used to display kakejiku (a hanging scdoll ),
a flower arrangement, and some object of art like
incense burner or etc. on the raised platform.
The base of the alcove is usually raised a few inches
higher than the rest of the room
and it's the size of a quarter or a half or full sized tatami.
The room with the tokonoma is the most important and formal room in a house.
Even today there are lots of houses with a tokonoma in a Japanese-style room.

A decorative corner pillar is called a tokobashira.
It is usually made of specialy shaped and polished wood.


Shouji is a sliding screen made of translucent white Japanese paper
pasted over wooden latticework..
It is used to seperate off a room from other rooms
or as windows, etc.
The light that comes through the shouji is soft and indirect
and the shadows it casts are enjoyable.