09. The advantage of tatami mats

There are a few advantages of tatami mats that floors with wooden flooring do not have. Particularly in Japan, as the climate is such that “there is a difference in temperature between summer and winter” and “it is very humid due to large amounts of rainfall,” as well as housing situations such as “the rooms are small,” “there are many houses made of wood,” “there is no central heating installed,” and “there are many opportunities for relatives to come together such as the New Year and the Bon Festival,” there are many cases in which having rooms with tatami mats is more convenient.

 

☆Advantage 1 of tatami mats: Cool in summer, warm in winter

 

 Summer temperatures in Japan can go up to 38~40℃ (100~104°F) on the hottest days. Furthermore, the average yearly humidity is about 60~70%. On the other hand, in winter, daytime temperatures often fall below 10℃ (50°F), and with morning temperatures dropping below freezing point. As soft rush, which is what tatami mats are originally made from, is in a sponge-like state, it is highly insulating, and is unique in its ability to block out the heat and cold better than wooden flooring. Thus, it helps relieve the humid heat in summer and the cold in winter. When using a heater, it is also more easily warmed than wooden flooring, saving on electricity costs.

 

☆Advantage 2 of tatami mats: relieves humidity and dryness

 

 Tatami mats are able to absorb and release moisture. When it is very humid, they absorb the humidity from the air, and release it when the air is dry. Tatami mats absorb the humidity in the humid summer and release moisture into the air in winter, which tends to be dry. In other words, it acts as a set consisting of both a dehumidifier and a humidifier.

 

☆Advantage 3 of tatami mats: it is resistant to condensation

 

 Condensation occurs when water vapor around a cold object coagulates and turns into water droplets. There are times when water droplets appear on windows on cool days, and this is condensation, which occurs due to the outside temperature being lower than the temperature indoors. Condensation forms not only on windows, but also on floors such as wooden flooring. Have you ever experienced a wet floor from condensation when carpets or futons are laid directly on floors that are not installed with floor heating? On the other hand, for tatami mats, as the temperature does not fall as much as wooden flooring, condensation rarely occurs. If you leave your futon spread out for several days, there might be water droplets on the futon, but this is not from condensation, but from night sweat seeping out of the futon.

 

☆Advantage 4: blocks out sound

 

 Japanese houses are small, and for housing complexes, there are times when people speaking or footsteps cause problems with neighbors. In such times, if you lay out tatami mats, its sound-blocking property absorbs the sounds of footsteps, making them less likely to resound on the floor below. If you lay out tatami mats in the rooms of babies and small children, footsteps and crying sounds are less likely to reverberate, which are also effective in stopping night crying.

 

☆Advantage 6: allows for effective use of rooms

 

The good thing about rooms with tatami mats is that the same room can be used for many purposes. Traditional Japanese rooms often come with storage drawers, and things that are not used are all stored in the drawers, only taking those that are required out when they are needed. The room can be used effectively by switching up the tools as they are used, such as tables and seat cushions during mealtimes, toys during children’s playtimes, and futons when it is time to sleep at night.

 

Also, when having guests over, you can accommodate various numbers of guests. Even in situations such as having eight people come over when you only invited five, they can all sit without you having to prepare the number of chairs equivalent to the number of guests. Also, as the tables used in traditional Japanese rooms are low, even if there are small children, you do not have to go the extra mile to prepare chairs for the children. Even if babies or children fall asleep, they can be put to sleep on the tatami mats.