"Half Tatami mat for waking up, one mat for sleeping."
This is the proverb used and loved by the people during late Edo period in Japan. The author is unknown. This impies no matter how you live in a huge mansion and no matter how gorgeous room you may have, the space you’d need is just half a Tatami mat for seating or standing and one mat for sleeping.
This saying is usually quoted when you’d like to emphasize on importance of satisfaction and self content life but I understand it differently. I see this saying as a great example of human equality and how we can see people equal.
Needless to say, there are tremendously many types or variety of people and many races in this world. Then how can we respect each other? And how can we be happy together? People during the
Edo period must have sought for the positive understanding because people at that time were forced to live in the world of unequally.
They must have thought about equality. What was common between the samurai and the merchant? What was common between the nobles and the common? Thus they got this viewpoint that minimum space for people are almost same. Namely they were able to reach the thought of equality by realizing the size of human being. They realized whether people are rich or poor, Samurai or farmer, merchant or priest, there are not much difference in sizes and in the minimum space for human being living.
While there are still racial discrimination going on, we should all realize we are not essentially different. Interestingly this proverb later got an additional phrase....even if you become a ruler of the world, you cannot eat more than two and a half cups of rice at a time. This implies even if you get abundant of rice, the amount you could eat daily is very limited like ordinally people.
I like this short saying very much. However I think the last part is not always correct......because I've eaten three cups of rice at a time by making Musubi.