Ah yes, tatami mats and flooring. If you've been looking around the web and have noticed that many Japanese apartments have tatami mats in them and are wondering what they are, how big they are and how big your 20 tatami apartment really is read on...
Many English teachers are shocked at how unusual their apartments are. From how small they are right down to how odd the flooring is.
Tatami means "folded and piled" and is traditional Japanese flooring. Because tatami is a woven straw called or rush mat, you definitely need to be taking your shoes off before walking on them.
They are quite delicate and will mold if they get wet and are not cleaned and generally last 6 to 7 years. When they are new they are green and as they age they turn yellow.
Some good things about tatami mats are that they breathe well and are mighty comfortable for sitting on etc. They also absorb heat very well so tatami rooms are usually cooler than rooms with traditional wood flooring. On top of this they absorb sound much better than traditional wood panel flooring. Another added bonus is the natural pleasant scent that tatami mats give off.
A Closer Look and A Conversion Table
Although many newer Japanese apartments have wood and tile floors there are still quite a few that will have tatami as the flooring. So if you'll be working for Aeon, Geos or some other school in Japan, there's a chance you'll have an apartment with tatami mats as the flooring in at least one room. More info. on tatami mats here.
Although it should be noted that in most apartments rented to foreigners by large "eikaiwas" the flooring will usually be standard laminated panel wood flooring. The reason is quite simple - it all comes down to durability and low construction costs.
In order to help you understand how big your apartment will be we've included a conversion table to reduce the shock factor. A typical apartment that Nova Holdings and company rents to their teachers are 1k's or 1DK's. Here's a link to view a typical apartments and layouts.
|Tatami||Sq. Meters||Sq. Feet|
Many 1K's can be as small as 10 tatami or 'jo' as they're called. This is about 15 square meters or 164 square feet.
There is a lot of swing in how big or small a 1K can get. There are some as big as 25 square meters and as tiny as 9 square meters... (hope you didn't bring much). Expect your typical Japanese apartment to be roughly 13 tatami mats in size provided of course that it is a 1K size apartment.
Take a peek at the furnishings of a Japanese apartment here. If you've decided that you don't want to be chained to the school that you work for, you'll have to bite the financial bullet and rent your own apartment. Although it's a bit of a pain, we highly recommend that you do get your own apartment if you intend to make a career
out of teaching in Japan.
Schools are totally aware that they have control as long as you're living in their apartments. (Remember that if you lose your job with the school that sponsors you, you lose your apartment too.) Ouch!!!
But not to fear as the increasing number of guest houses, shared living or gaijin houses which require nothing more than a credit card to secure are gaining rapidly in popularity. This is mostly due to the declining population of working class Japanese. This in turn invites more foreigners to Japan to fill those vacancies. So in short there will always be somewhere to hang your hat.
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