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This is likely to be the last sound of a tatami mat woven in Sikou Town. During the Occupation, the Japanese discovered that the climate and environment of southwestern Taiwan were perfect for the cultivation of soft rush, the type of grass used for tatami mats. From the early 1970s to the early 90s, the entire Sipei village in Sikou Town, Chiayi County relied on cultivating soft rush and mat-weaving, which peaked in the 1980s. Later, as Taiwanese businessmen began investing in Mainland China, the mat-weaving industry in Taiwan faced its biggest onslaught. At the same time, global warming has dramatically changed the region’s climate. Normally reaped in early summer, the grass can no longer cope with temperatures reaching as high as 36-37 degrees Celsius in May, and is often dried up by the time of harvest. PHOTO: Yen-Ting Hsu