Straw matting used as a floor covering especially in a Japanese house.
Tatami mats are woven straw mats closely associated with Japanese culture, where they have been an enduring feature for centuries. The densely woven mats are traditionally used as a floor covering, and a number of traditions surround their use. The classic size of a tatami mat is three by six feet (one by two meters), although a wide assortment of shapes and sizes are available in addition to custom mats. This standard size is often used as a room measurement, much as square footage is used in many parts of the West. Thus, one may hear a room described as “four and a half mats.” Many Japanese import stores stock tatami mats, and they can also be ordered directly. The early roots of tatami mats were probably simple rushes strewn on the floors of rooms to keep them more dry and clean. Gradually, rushes were replaced with woven mats, which evolved an inner layer of stuffing such as straw or rice bran. Tatami mats are traditionally edged in fabric such as brocade to keep the layers together. Today, the filling for tatami mats is often a synthetic material, designed to resist wear.