Posted by takaya under Essay
Comments Off on Tatami Mat Is Not Flooring But Furniture
Every time when I watch any Japanese traditional dance, I feel that Japanese traditional dances are quite different from any other type of dance including ballet, jazz dance, and revere dance, etc. First of all, Japanese traditional dancers hardly move aggressively. It seems unusual to me that they jump with arms flung wide or spin continuously like Baryshnikov. Overall, they dance quietly.
Tatami-mat room is called Washitsu(和室, Japanese room). Kanazawa, Japan
Not only the Japanese dancers but also many Japanese people move quietly, at least, in a house. In Japanese traditional manners, you should not slip-slop across tatami mat floors. Sliding doors should be opened gently and slowly. Probably, all Japanese parents have memories of scolding their children acting up on tatami-mats.
In Japanese traditional houses, floors are tatami-mats or boarded floors. Especially, tatami mats which are made of straws are much softer than earth floor. If you walk across tatami-mats like walking outdoor, the mats will be damaged. People do not walk but “shuffle” across tatami-mats.
Originally, tatami-mat is not a floor material but furniture. In Heian Era, 12th century, one or two tatami mats were set as a bed on boarded floor in an aristocrat’s house. Then the area of tatami-mats had been extended and covered an entire room by Muromachi Era, 16th century. Arata Isozaki, Japanese renowned architect, mentioned tatami as one of the factors defining unique behavior of Japanese in his book, “Mitate no Shuhou (見立ての手法）”. This is a very interesting book, but it has not been translated yet.
By the way, there is no tatami-mat room in our house. I wish that we could have it. But I am afraid that our cats misunderstand tatami-mats as a big scratcher. (T)