What is a tatami room?

A Japanese tatami room, called a washitsu (or nihonma), is a room decorated in a traditional Japanese style. It has shoji and tatami and may have a tokonoma, if it's for guest reception.


Tatami are mats made using rice straw (traditionally), woodchip boards or styrofoam as the centre, covered with a rush straw covering (omote). Some tatami have cloth edging.

Tatami Dimensions

Tatami sizes depend on the area of Japan. On average, tatami measure three feet by six feet.

Washitsu Size

Regular sized washitsu contains six (9 feet by 12 feet) or eight (12 feet by 12 feet) tatami.


Shoji are sliding room dividers and doors made of washi paper, machine paper or plastic, placed over a bamboo or wooden frame.


A tokonoma is a raised alcove that can have hanging decorative scrolls, arranged flowers, bonsai, small objects such as carvings and a pillar made from a tree trunk.


Washitsu furniture can include a kotatsu (a table with a small heater underneath it) and zabuton (sitting cushions).

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Joan Reinbold is a writer, author of six books, blogs and makes videos. She has been a tutor for students, library assistant, certified dental assistant and business owner. She has lived (and gardened) on three continents, learning home renovation in the process. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 2006.