Shiga: Unique Vending Machine Gives Crafters an Edge

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Uemata Tatami Industry President Takashi Ueda points out the tatami-edging selections in the vending machine he installed in Otsu.

OTSU — A vending machine in Otsu that dispenses strips of cloth normally used to wrap the edges of tatami mats is providing a rare opportunity for craft enthusiasts to express themselves, while at the same time reducing waste.

The vending machine was installed by Uemata Tatami Industry as a way to reuse leftover materials. Tatami-edging cloth is typically discarded as waste when there are excess pieces.

The cloth is soft, durable and works well with double-sided tape, making it ideal for creating one-of-a-kind handmade items such as pencil cases, coin purses and bags. Dispensed in small boxes about the size of a pack of cigarettes, the cloth strips are 1 meter long and 8 centimeters wide.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Small items made using tatami edging cloth, such as pencil cases

There are 10 varieties available, including a “mystery” option containing a random pattern, all priced at ¥100 to ¥200.

With the declining popularity of Japanese-style rooms, the tatami mat industry has been facing challenging times.

Uemata Tatami’s 46-year-old president, Takashi Ueda, said, “I want to do anything I can to protect traditional industries.”