Miyazaki Tatami Shop: Factory Tour and Tatami Making Experience with Craftsman Satoshi Miyazaki.
Hi everyone this is Love Saitama Ambassador Jess. The other day I visited a tatami craftsman in the town of Yoshimi and got to try making tatami for myself.
This was my first time to visit a tatami craftsperson and I was quite excited!
Miyazaki Tatami Shop has been running since 1965. Originally started by his father, the business is now run by Satoshi Miyazaki, a Tatami Meister or Master Craftsman. Miyazaki san is passionate about tatami and it’s benefits.
The Miyazaki Tatami Shop is about 1 hour by train from central Tokyo. Yoshimi is well known for the One Hundred Caves of Yoshimi and it’s delicious strawberries (links at the bottom of this article)
Tatami is a traditional Japanese flooring made from rush and rice straw.
Tatami is made up of three main pieces as follows.
Tatami-doko (畳床) the core.
Traditionally rice straw, modern tatami has an inner of compressed wood chips or styrene form.
Tatami-omote (畳表) the surface.
Fine textured dried rush woven together with hemp or cotton yarn.
Tatami-beri (畳縁) the edge.
Cloth is wrapped around the ends of the tatami mat to hide the woven area.
As a kyudo or Japanese archery practitioner tatami is something that I sit on often. I love the colour and the smell of tatami, and the cool feel on my skin in summer.
Traditional Japanese house building techniques using paper and wood are fascinating to me. Researching these areas has lead to learning about tatami too. It really surprised me to discover what an ecological and active functioning type of flooring it is!
Experience at Miyazaki Tatami Shop
The experience flowed as follows:
- Greetings and explanation
- Factory and machine tour
- Tatami History
- Stitching experience
- Tatami making experience
The factory tour was very fascinating as Miyazaki san explained and demonstrated each piece of equipment used in the finishing process for tatami.
The needle used in the sewing machines is very long and eye catching!
While watching and introducing machines, Miyazaki san also discussed the history of tatami and how the core has changed over the years from rice straw to polystyrene and this has made the overall weight of tatami lighter.
Next I was shown the traditional hand sewing method of making tatami and also got to try my hand at sewing.
There is a special leather pad called a teate that I put on my hand to protect it while pushing the very long needle called a sashibari.
Sewing tatami was a very interesting feeling. The depth and angle are important and must be consistent. I can’t imagine how time consuming and physically demanding this job must have been!
Next we moved to the small tatami mat making! Using a staple gun little by little I made my own tatami mat to take home. Miyazaki san guided me with each step.
Choosing the heri pattern was very fun as there are so many to choose from! Each pattern has a specific meaning.
I chose dragonflies which are well know in the martial arts world as the kachimushi or winning insect as they only fly forward. The red and white patterns where a beautiful contrast with the soft green igusa/rush cover.
Lastly we had question and answer time and Miyazaki san gave wonderful insights into the world of the tatami craftsperson.
I was really excited to hear about several nationwide tatami competitions which bring craftspeople together from all over Japan. The competition is a way to showcase their skills and keep traditional alive for future generations.
The whole tatami factory tour and tatami making experience is about 1.5 hours long and is a great way to get a glimpse at the world of the traditional craftsperson.
Miyazaki san is kind and passionate about his profession and will gladly answer any questions you have. He is comfortable with photos and videos too.
This was an enjoyable and insightful experience for me. I hope you will have the chance to visit Miyazaki san too soon.
Tatami Experience Information
Miyazaki Tatami Shop
Factory tour and tatami making experience with Satoshi Miyazaki, tatami Meister.
Igusa/rush coaster 700 yen
Mini tatami for interior decoration 1000 yen
Factory tour and hands on tatami craftsperson experience 3000 yen
*Children from 4 or 5 years upwards are welcome.
Miyazaki Tatami Shop
386 Jitoho, Yoshimi Machi
Google map link
Address in Japanese
Price, booking and contact information
*Please email to make a tour or experience booking.
Other things to see in Yoshimi:
Yoshimi Hundred Caves
Roadside Station: Ichigo-no-Sato – Yoshimi
Love Saitama Ambassador
Since 2018 Jessica has been introducing interesting places and people in Saitama Prefecture as the “Love Saitama Ambassador” via Chocotabi Saitama and her social media.
Twitter : https://twitter.com/jessintokyo
Since 2002 Jessica has been living and working in Japan as a TV personality on Japanese TV.
Photos by Hirokazu Kiuchi