Here in the U.S., despite some noises years ago about metric conversion, we still measure length in inches, feet, and yards. The Japanese measure their homes in mats. Traditionally Japanese used tatami mats as flooring. The inside of the mat is composed of compressed rice straw, which is then covered by woven rush. Nowadays the core can consist of compressed styrofoam and wood chips. The mats come in standard sizes, although the standard is smaller in cities like Toyko. Different grades are available, with the highest quality reserved for tea rooms and shrines. The mats insulate for temperature and sound, regulate humidity, and even absorb carbon dioxide.
Even if an apartment is carpeted, it’s still measured in tatami mats or jo. A 6 jo room is considered standard, which comes to about 98 square feet.
We admire sun-bleached hair, but what about snow-bleaching? UNESCO not only recognizes historic sites but intangible cultural heritage. Intangible cultural heritage embraces traditions, performing arts, and skills to produce traditional crafts. Ojiya-chijimi cloth production, a centuries old process, has gained UNESCO intangible cultural heritage status. This lightweight cloth is produced in Japan’s northern regions and is favored for summer kimonos. It’s the final step of the process that’s the most intriguing: snow-bleaching. Bolts of fabric are laid out in the snow for 10- 20 days. Sunlight intensified by the reflective property of the snow coupled with ozone released by evaporation lighten the fabric.