Development of Industry’s lightest Tatami Mat

November 8, 2009 · Filed Under Coffee Break 

Tatami as being part of traditional Japanese culture is going through a though time partly due to shift to more western style of flooring such as rugs, carpets or even wood flooring ,and party due to ongoing difficulties with supply of rice straw, the main ingredient in making tatami. The supply issue has been created due to insufficient straw materials, reduced request because of aging of tatami artisans and need for price reduction with consistent quality. As a result of this, there has been a shift toward tatami mat construction materials that do not use any rice straw. One such company that makes alternative material for tatami construction is Dow Kakoh, where the company uses “STYROFOAM” extruded polystyrene foam boards to match the feel of a straw tatami mats resulting in a lighter tatami mat.
The company in constructing the new tatami mat examined methods to increase the strength of extruded polystyrene foam board as well as combining suitable cushiony and reinforcing materials to help in producing the feel of straw tatami. The new tatami incorporates KURARAY‘s steam-jet type non-woven fabrics by using new-and-improved DK Boards designed for tatami mats. The new DK Boards combines the two layer construction, a layer capable of absorbing shock and another in providing rigidity. Now a days Tatami with artificially made materials come in different colors and shapes and I even seen one with embedded LED lights targeted for Japanese type restaurants and drinking places. Being a naturalist, I have a difficulty in replacing that natural and soothing smell of rice straw tatami mat with an artificial one no matter how light it is and how well it has been made. Well, once again you can’t stop progress. The retail price for this new tatami mat is at 18,000 yen per mat. The sale target is set at 1 million tatami mats within 5 years.

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