Tatami Room  畳(たたみ)の部屋

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

日本語会話 初級 中級

The room with tatami mats is called either Washitsu (means a Japanese Room) or O-zashiki (means “tatami” being laid out for sitting). Before western style sitting chairs were introduced during the Meiji-era (1868-1912), Japanese people typically sat or kneeled directly on the wooden floor or tatami. Tatami is made from woven igusa (soft rush grass/Juncus effusus), so it is softer on your knees, and newly made tatami generates a calming earthy scent that invites the sense of outdoors into the living space.


There are other elements in washitsu that integrate nature and indoor living space. One is shoji screens. Shoji screens are made of thin Japanese paper called washi and normally used to divide indoor living space from the outdoors. It brings in natural light into the living space. Fusuma also is a sliding door made of paper, but it’s opaque and used as an entrance door to a washitsu. Tokonoma is a small space attached to a washitsu where artwork such as a scroll and ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) are displayed. Tokonoma often features a polished trunk of a specimen tree as well. It is a built-in feature to enhance the natural atmosphere. Lastly, Engawa is a wooden floor that lays between a washitsu and outdoor space. It used to be a hallway to connect with the other rooms, but as house sizes have shrunken over the years, it becomes merely an extended space for a washitsu.


Each tatami mat is approximately 38” x 76” in western Japan, but both dimensions are a few inches shorter in eastern Japan. To count tatami, a counting unit “Jou” is used, and the number describes the number of tatamis laid in a room. Most common washitsu size would be 6-jou or 8-jou, but 3, 4.5, 10, 12 also are available.


As a good number of the younger generation have been raised in western style living, many are experiencing difficulties sitting directly on the floor just like visitors from foreign countries, so the role of washitsu is changing from the main living space to a decorative feature of a house for special occasions. When you have a chance to stay in Ryokan (Traditional Japanese Hotel), you will have a few things to remember; make sure to take off your shoes or slippers before getting on tatami (refer to Japanese house article), count tatamis to know the size of your room, and identify washitsu features described in this article.


Japanese room, tatami, shoji, tokonoma, fusuma
Tatami room featuring tatami-mats, shoji-screen, tokonoma, and fusuma

日本語会話 初級

*download & view to listen


A:今日はマイケルさんをすき焼(や)き屋(や)さんに連(つ)れて行(い)きます。


B: えっ、本当(ほんとう)ですか? 嬉(うれ)しい。僕(ぼく)、すき焼きが大好(だいす)きです。


A: そうですか。それはよかった。 今日(きょう)は木曜日(もくようび)ですからあまり混(こ)んでいないと思(おも)います。 あっ、ここです。


B: わーっ、きれいなお店(みせ)ですね。


店の人(みせのひと): いらっしゃいませ。何名様(なんめいさま)ですか。


A: 二人(ふたり)です。テーブルの席(せき)は空(あ)いていますか?


店の人: すみません。今日はいっぱいなんです。お座敷(ざしき)なら空いていますが。


A: えーっ、困(こま)ったなあ。 マイケルさん、お座敷でも大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)ですか?


B: うーん、あまり自信(じしん)がありません。でも、だいじょうぶ。トライしてみます。


A: じゃあ、お座敷の席、お願(ねが)いします。


日本語会話 中級

*download & view to listen


A: あー、マイケルさん、直接(ちょくせつ)畳(たたみ)に座らないでください。さあ、この座布団(ざぶとん)を使(つか)ってください。


B:座布団? 座布団って、布団(ふとん)の一種(いっしゅ)ですか?


A: ははは、座布団の座は座(すわ)るという字(じ)を書(か)きます。座るための布団ってことですよ。


B: なるほど。見たことがありませんでした。でも、アメリカのクッションに似(に)ていますね。


A: 大丈夫ですか?マイケルさん。やっぱり座りづらそうですねー。


B: うーん、やっぱり床(ゆか)の上に座り慣(な)れていませんから、ちょっと辛(つら)いです。


店の人:お客さん、どうぞもっと座布団を使ってください。何枚(なんまい)か重(かさ)ねればもっと楽(らく)になるかもしれませんよ。


B: あっ、本当(ほんとう)だ。これなら楽です。どうもありがとう。


A:じゃ、そろそろオーダーしましょうか。今日は私がご馳走(ちそう)しますよ。じゃんじゃん食(た)べて、飲(の)んでください。


覚えたいことば

すき焼き屋 n. sukiyaki is a popular comfort food for the Japanese. thinly sliced beef, tofu, scallion, shiitaki etc. in a pot. 屋(や) suffix describes a store/merchant/restaurant.

連れて行く v. to bring. often used compound verb.

それはよかった "great""I'm glad you liked it" an expression often used.

何名様 n. how many in a respect tone. compare with 何人

なら p. conditional particle. try to replace withたら

でも p. even with. compare with でも in a following line.

自信がありません don't have a confidence. 自信=confidence 自信がある=have a confidence.

で p. this で is to specify a category. use を instead and compare.

座布団 n. about 2' x 2' flat cushion to sit on

一種 n. a kind

ための dictionary form v + ため(n) +の(p)

なるほど interjection to express your understanding/agreement

やっぱり orやはり, as I thought

座りずらそう ますform v + つらい +そうだ つらい to add a sense of discomfort, そうだ=aux.v. Here、you look uncomfortable sitting (on Zabuton).

座り慣れていません ますform v +慣れる 慣れる to add customary habit. In this case "he is not used to sit(on the floor)".

辛い い-adj. hard, difficult, uncomfortable

何枚か か=particle to add approximation. a few pieces of ...

楽になる 楽な=な-adj. comfortable + なる  

そろそろ state of being onomatopoeia expressing "it's about time to do"

ご馳走します ご馳走+する often refer to treating someone. compare with ご馳走ですね。ごちそうさま。

じゃんじゃん state of being onomatopoeia encouraging certain actions. Here, encouraging to eat and drink.


Please send comments and questions at Facebook Page or from Contact page.