Life on the Japanese Floor
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Posted 5/11/08 , edited 5/11/08
Life on the Japanese Floor

In the West we sometimes hear that the Japanese live and sleep "on the floor" and we wonder how such a life could be convenient or comfortable. In fact, the Japanese do not live on the floor so much as they spend their life pleasantly and comfortably upon tatami. Tatami are uniformly-sized reed mats placed together within a room to provide a firm yet comfortable surface upon which to sit, eat and sleep. A room with tatami matting is referred to in Japan as a "Japanese room" or washitsu. In the past, washitsu were the norm in every room of the house save the earthen-floored doma where meal preparation and some work was performed. In modern Japan most homes and apartments resemble western-style residences with the exception that nearly every domicile will have at least one old style washitsu room. Our own apartment in Shizuoka has a single washitsu where my family and I relax in the evening and sleep every night. Japanese style futon bedding is kept in the closet during the day in order to free the room's precious space for daytime activities such as dining, the performance of household chores and relaxing. Our tatami room is without question the heart of our little home and life upon the reed matting a comfortable and very Japanese way of living.
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