Relax and Sleep in A Japanese Futon

These days, almost every working people in the world are busy trying to make ends meet. People wake up early in the morning and going to their respective workplaces, work throughout the day, and go home after a long and tiring day. For some, they even have to work over time, which just adds stress not just to one’s body but also to one’s mind. In recent years, stress has been among the top causes of sickness among human beings. There is just so much to do with so little time available. One of the many remedies to stress is sleep. By sleeping, the body is able to rest and recuperate so it can function the next day. Without sleep, a person may become lethargic or worse, become sick.

To be able to maximize one’s sleep, it is important to rest in a comfortable bed with pillows and a warm blanket for those sleeping in a cold surrounding. While most people usually sleep on a bed with a mattress placed on top of a bed frame, there is also a kind of bedding system that does not consist of a bed frame. This is known as the Japanese futon.

Japanese Futon: A Bed Without A Frame

Due to limited spaces available for families living in Japan, people had to adjust their living situations accordingly. It was typical for a single family to live in just one room where eating, working, and sleeping are all done in the same place. Because of this, a huge bed frame would take up too much space in an already limited room. Hence, the locals developed Japanese futon. A Japanese futon serves as the bed of the Japanese people.

A traditional style of bedding in Japan, a Japanese futon is a combination of a number of elements that make up the bedding system of some Japanese people. A set of Japanese futon consists of a mattress called shikibuton, a duvet called kakebuton in Japanese, and some covers and pillows. While most people refer to futon as just the mattress itself, Japanese futon is more than just that. Because all elements of a set of Japanese futon are foldable, it is ideal for Japanese families to use them during the night then fold and store them away during the day.

With a number of furniture needed inside a home, a huge bed frame is not exactly a necessity for most Japanese people. What is important is to just have a comfortable surface to lie on and sleep in during the night. The Japanese futon serves exactly that purpose. Along with a fabric exterior that has wool, cotton, or synthetic batting stuffed within it, a Japanese futon is a mattress that is quite thin but still comfortable to lie on.

Previously referring to a round cushion stuffed with cattail leaves, a futon in Japan is typically now stuffed with cotton. Because of this, the original characters of futon, which was 蒲団 in Mandarin and translated to “cattail” and “round” respectively, were replaced with 布団, which translates to “cloth” and “round.” Today, Japanese futons are sold in department stores and shops that specialize in futons, called futon’ya in Japanese, all over the country. In some inns, there are usually two sets of Japanese futons that look like twin beds for guests.

Generally sold in sets, Japanese futons also come with other components aside from the mattress and the duvet. This may include a pillow and a blanket. Because a Japanese futon does not have its own bed frame, it was designed to be laid on tatami flooring. Come morning, the Japanese futon would then be stored inside a closet. Not only does this provide more space in the room but it also lets the tatami breathe. One way of maintaining the futon clean and fresh aside from washing it regularly is to let it be aired under the sunlight from time to time.  Another way of maintaining the form of the futon is by beating it regularly by using a futon beater or a futon-tataki in Japanese. By doing this, one can prevent the padding from matting.

A Set of Japanese Futon: Mattress, Blanket/Cover, and Pillows

There are two basic elements that make up a set of Japanese futon, namely, a spreading futon and a covering futon. More commonly known as shikibuton by the Japanese locals, a shikibuton is basically the mattress of this bedding. Also sometimes called a shiki futon, a shikibuton is what is directly laid on the tatami flooring.  Most shikibutons produced are 3 inches to 4 inches thick, which is about 7.62 cm to 10.16 cm thick, with varying dimensions. Due to its thickness, a shikibuton already makes a considerably good and firm bedding although a number of side sleepers may beg to differ.

Made traditionally with 100% cotton, shikibutons these days are now made with several other materials. This may include latex, wool, foam, or other synthetic materials. On the other hand, one of the best things about using a shikibuton is that it does not have any metal inner springs in them, which can cause back pain and other types of discomfort that one may get when sleeping on an uncomfortable bed. The general lifespan of this product should range from 8 to 15 years, though some shikibutons from certain brands can last up to 20 years or more.

There are pros and cons in using a shikibuton. One definite advantage in using a shikifuton, or a Japanese futon in general, is that it is portable and ideal for those who live in a limited space. Furthermore, its design is minimalist and safe for children as these mattresses cannot be jumped on. Because the mattress is set on the floor, children also would not fall off any bed frames. Lastly, shikibutons also make great beds for guests. One con of using this product is that it requires more care in comparison to using a traditional mattress. On the other hand, its lifespan, comfort, and simplicity are definitely worth the effort. One more con would be the tediousness of having to fold it away everyday, but getting to have more space is a good outcome of it, nonetheless.

The second basic element of a Japanese futon is the duvet or a kakebuton in Japanese. Also called kake futon, a kakebuton serves as the comforter of the bedding. They are usually sold in varying thickness to accommodate the changing of seasons in Japan. The materials usually used for producing kakebutons range from polyester and cotton to premium fabrics like silk. It can be dry cleaned while its cover should be washed and cleaned on a regular basis.

 There are two important things to consider when choosing for a good quality kakebuton. The first key factor to consider is the material of the kakebuton. Because of the wide range of options when it comes to the material of a kakebuton, the feeling of each variant differs on the skin. People looking for a more affordable kakebuton may opt to go for the cotton and polyester one though it is important to note that these are heavier and are more prone to dust mites. On the other hand, for those who are looking for the utmost comfort, they may opt to choose kakebutons made of silk and these have natural hypoallergenic properties and can regulate temperature rather well.

The second key factor to consider is whether the product is either hand quilted or machine quilted. Most, if not all, people who use Japanese futons say that kakebutons that are hand quilted are so much better than machine quilted ones in terms of quality. However, because they are made by hand, customers would have to wait for a hand quilted kakebuton to be available as it takes much longer to produce.

While a Japanese futon is basically just a combination of shikibuton and kakebuton, there are also other components that make up a good Japanese futon. One of them is, of course, the pillow where one’s head is placed while sleeping. Also known as makura in Japan, it is the main pillow of a complete and traditional Japanese futon set. Unlike regular pillows from the West, which are considerably large and filled with feathers, foam, or synthetic fibers, makuras in Japan are rather small in size and are filled with buckwheat hulls. There are a number of health benefits that buckwheat hulls bring. Makuras help relieve neck pain and tension headaches.

There are also advantages and disadvantages in using makuras. Not only do they alleviate neck pain and headaches, they are also organic and hypoallergenic. The firmness of makuras can also be adjusted just by either adding or removing the buckwheat hulls. One specific disadvantage of using this kind of pillows is that it tends to make a noise in comparison to foam and feathers though this may not be an issue for those who do not love a lot while sleeping.

For Sale: Where to Get the Best Japanese Futons

Because Japanese futons are quite popular in Japan, it is no wonder that there are several companies and brands that produce different kinds of this. However, if one is looking for the best quality Japanese futon mattress, then look no further than J-Life Japanese Traditional Shiki Futon. Among the top brands when it comes to Japanese futons, J-Life produces shikibutons with traditional standards. This means that their shikibutons contain no wool, foam, or innersprings, which tend to break down after some time.

Most people, even side sleepers, find shikibutons made by J-Life so comfortable that they no longer need a tri-fold as under-padding. The company also considered flammability; hence, their shikibutons are made so as to meet all flammability standards. They also offer Japanese-themed patterns on their shikibutons and its covers to make it more appealing to the eyes. Their customer service is also great so consumers are left happy and satisfied.

If one of the many key points in buying a Japanese futon is the price, then D&D Futon Furniture might be for you. One of the products that they are well-known for is the queen size version of a Japanese futon. Unlike the usual single or double sized Japanese futons, their version is a roomy 60-inch by 80-inch, perfect for sleepers who toss and turn while sleeping. The weight is also not that heavy so it can be brought outside such as in yoga classes. The materials used in this shikibuton are 90% cotton, 5% poly fiber, and 5% foam. It is also very versatile as it is travel-friendly.

Is Japanese Futon Ideal?

Of course, not every person in this world would feel comfortable with sleeping on a Japanese futon. However, this bedding may be ideal to some people. A Japanese futon would be fine for people who are okay with sleeping low to the floor. If one has a limited space in their room, then a Japanese futon would definitely be the ideal bedding due to its versatility. As for those who love living a simple and minimalist lifestyle, then a Japanese futon would be a great alternative to the regular bed because of its simple but optimal design. Using a Japanese futon may as well improve one’s quality of life.

While there are definitely other options when it comes to choosing a bedding system, a Japanese futon is certainly a great choice. While there may be disadvantages such as sleeping low to the floor and limited room within the mattress, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, with the bedding’s simplicity and versatility. Having a simple and minimalist style of bedding somehow relieves the clutter and complications of other things. It would also be great if one can experience the Japanese futon comfort. Because of the materials used in all of its elements, a Japanese futon provides not just simplicity but also comfort and relief, especially for those who suffer from severe neck pains and tension headaches. Truly, the design of Japanese futons considers almost all aspects when it comes to everyday living.