Japanese beds are renowned around the world and in Japan for being a popular form of bedding that emphasizes simplicity in design and spine-aligning comfort. Besides the tatami mat and kakebuton, the futon (shikibuton), is one of the best futon mattresses you can actually sleep on or use for leisure.
This futon has its origins from Japan, often used as a floor bed or bed topper, this lightweight and flexible sleeping mat is a pleasure to have in your home. Pair it with a tatami mat or simply lay the sleeping mat in the living room for instant comfort and back relief.
How Japan Sleeps
If you ever been into a traditional home in Japan or slept in a ryokan, chances are that you’ve seen or slept on a Japanese futon.
A Japanese futon (敷き布団 shikibuton) has been a staple in many traditional Japanese homes for its simple and convenient design that has been the essential sleeping mattress in Japan for over hundreds of years.
Not to be mistaken by its Western counterpart–a sofa futon, a Japanese futon is a folding mattress that is part of the Japanese traditional style of bedding, a traditional style of bedding generally found in tatami rooms.
A Western sofa futon is incorporated into the sofa design itself, whereas a shikibuton can be used as a standalone sleeping mattress or combined with either a tatami mat or Japanese platform bed, or both.
Why Sleep on a Japanese Futon?
The Japanese futon is a minimal, and totally economical choice and even the best Japanese futons can come at a very reasonable price.
Practical and simple.
The Japanese shiki futon is a by-product of Japan’s effort to successfully simplifying the standard mattress by designing a sleeping mattress with a minimal design and practicality in mind.
The minimalist living space.
The result is a completely minimal, high-quality mattress that is not the main centerpiece of the bedroom but a comfortable pleasure to have around when you need it.
Transitioning from your old mattress to a Japanese futon may be the best choice you’ve made for your sleep and well being.
How to Buy a Japanese Futon
Choosing the perfect mattress can be difficult and stressful.
It’s often hard to take into account the quality of the mattress, the firmness of the cotton, cost, and the style of the mattress when choosing a mattress.
However, when it comes to shopping for Japanese futons, buying the perfect sleeping mat for your bedroom or travel endeavors couldn’t be more than simple.
We have curated together a list of the best Japanese futons and futons that can be used for an extended list of purposes. See below.
For highest rated Japanese futons
For weekend leisure and relaxing
- This EMOOR Futon Set includes pillow and comforter for on-the-go comfort!
- D&D Floor Futon for quick and easy set up
For small apartments, dorms, and compact spaces
For a modern touch and livening up any room in the home
- Sleek and minimal design HXXXY Japanese Futon
- Elegant and vibrant Lovehouse Japanese Futon
- Soft and floral patterned Flower Blue Japanese Futon
Shikibuton key features
- Aligns your spine naturally to improve posture.
- Soft and firm cotton for a better night's sleep
- Breathable cotton to help you stay cool
- Compact and easily stored away to open up space
Here are a few steps in choosing the perfect Japanese futon:
Know your motive: Shiki futons are versatile as they can be used as your bedroom mattress, a convenient sleeping mattress for a guest or relative, and even a compact bed for traveling or camping.
Find the right size: Traditional Japanese shiki futons come in size twin, full, queen, and king. See below for a complete size chart.
Traditional vs. Modern: For a more authentic and traditional mattress, you can't go wrong with a mattress crafted with expert Japanese craftmanship. Modern shikibutons have all the essential qualities of a traditional Japanese floor mattress with a modern and appealing aesthetic pattern and look.Learn how to maintain and wash your futon with a detailed guide and infographic below.
The Benefits of a Japanese Futon
You may be wondering, "Why should I sleep on a traditional Japanese futon?"
Well, here are five qualities that make the Japanese futon the best mattress for anyone searching for a new mattress or sleeping mat:
- Simple design. A minimal, traditional design that effortlessly looks modern, simple, and beautiful in any bedroom.
- Compact. A pleasure for small bedrooms, dorms, and apartments.
- Practical. Find ease in traveling, camping, or simply providing your house guest with a foldable, light mattress that can be easily carried around whenever you need it.
- Supported comfort. Crafted with a durable, solid construction of strong cotton that aid firm comfort and portability. Your back will thank you for this.
- Economical. Durable cotton to ensure that the shikifuton will stand up to daily use for many years down the line, saving you thousands of dollars on buying a new mattress.
What is a Japanese Futon
A futon (布団) is the Japanese traditional style of bedding.
A Japanese futon mattress is a slim, foldable, and rectangular shaped mattress that is best known as being the true authentic Japanese floor sleeping mat.
Typically, a shikibuton is laid on top of a tatami mat to create a futon bed. Futon beds are a type of bedding commonly seen in traditional Japanese-style rooms or tatami rooms.
For practical purposes other than sleeping, futons are often folded and stored away in the bedroom to make room for other activities.
- Lightweight, Compact and Easy to Store
- Firm, Padded Cushion for Back Support
- Long Lasting Comfort
- A Much Healthier Choice
Simple Way of Living
Also known as a shikibuton and shiki futon, the Japanese floor mattress has a distinct level of firmness and flexibility that makes them the ideal Japanese mattress for people looking for a futon for everyday sleeping.
The Japanese futon is known as the folding floor mattress because the shiki futon should be flexible and easily foldable in half--a quality that makes them highly convenient for compact spaces and simple living arrangements.
Keeping it Traditional
The traditional Japanese way of sleeping embraces the idea of a minimalist way of living and zen simple living to create the essence of openness, tranquility, and calmness.
A traditional bedding style in Japan consists of a complete set that includes a shikibuton and kakebuton. This bedding has a rich history in Japanese culture and history, being the standard sleeping setup in Japan for centuries.
Below, you will discover some of the best Japanese floor futon mattresses that are easily available for sale and tried and tested by different consumers for quality.
Top Rated Japanese Futons
Highly reviewed and top shikibutons in the realm of online markets. Traditionally designed with strict attention to detail and quality, and a sharp guideline for harmonizing firmness with a touch of comfort.
A thick (4-inch), full-size traditional Japanese shikibuton that is one of the best Japanese futons for sleeping on the floor. Comfortable, durable and constructed with 100% cotton outer material.
Find it here!
Easily one of the best shikibutons you can buy for its price and you can get it on amazon. The premium construction and 5-years manufacturers warranty makes the Jlife shikibuton an excellent choice for a lighweight, affordable futon.
- Traditional Japanese futon design
- 5-Year manufacturers warranty
- 4 Inch Cotton Mattress
- Portability and firm comfort
- Made with durable 100% cotton
Perfect firm and sturdy Asian futon mattress to sleep on the floor or use in a futon floor bed. Organic shikibuton designed with Japanese craftsmanship with 100% hygroscopic cotton fabric.
- Made in Japan futon at reasonable price
- Lightweight and compact
- Anti-bacterial, deodorizing and anti-mite
- Best quality shikbution for its price
A full size, 100% cotton authentic Japanese futon mattress designed in Japan with “High Grade” construction. Easily foldable shikibuton to be stored in a closet.
Find it here
Convenient to save space in bedrooms. Excellent to have for house guests. Perfect for layering with blankets for extra cushioning when sleeping on the floor.
- Fluffy and rich in elasticity
- Comes in compact compression packing
- Soft and comfortable
- Anti-bacterial, deodorizing and anti-mite
Most Convenient Japanese Futons
Japanese shikibutons designed with convenience in mind and with ease of use and simply practical. Designed behind the idea that comfort should never sacrifice space and freedom. There should be a balance of both.
A great minimalist mattress that saves space and easily stored in a compact space in your bedroom. Extremely portable and pairs great with a tatami mat and kakebuton. This is one of the best and cheap Japanese futon if you’re looking for a minimal mattress or a portable futon for your home.
Find it here
Here we have a twin size Japanese futon that serves as an all-purpose mattress. Extremely soft and portable, you’ll be bringing this portable futon anywhere you go. Simply fold the futon and tie it, and you’re set.
Find it here
A traditional Japanese futon set by EMOOR that comes with a comforter (kakebuton), shikibuton, and futon pillow. Best all-in-one Japanese futon set for convenience and an excellent ready-to-sleep set up.
Find it here
Here is a Japanese roll up mattress that is designed for convenience, traveling, and perfect for guests. It’s a portable futon roll up mattress that includes two elastic bands for easy roll up and carrying. Designed to be light and portable, its an essential piece for camping or traveling.
Find it here
Modern Japanese Futons
Japanese shikibutons designed with a clean, modern style for your bedroom and home--without sacrificing the natural comfort of a traditional shikibuton.
Designed for simplicity and style, use it in a bedroom, living room, friend’s house, and traveling. It’s the ultimate cheap futon with style! One of the best floor mattress for guests and friends. Truly an essential sleeping mat to keep in your home for convenience.
Find it here
An elegant and beautifully patterned Japanese sleeping pad that is excellent for traveling, relaxing, portable bed for camping, compact dorm rooms, and as a floor sleeping pad for guests. Comes in a variety of unique designs!
Find it here
A sleek, minimal design defines the character and appeal of this futon bed. Embracing the idea of the traditional Japanese shikibuton, this thin mattress topper is comfortable and looks alluring with its clean design and seasonal colors.
Find it here
Here’s a Japanese futon with a splash of style and heep of comfort. Designed with exquisite quilting technology and constructed with a mattress pad protector to help give you a comfortable and natural sleep.
Find it here
Benefits from Japanese Futons
Better Sleeping Experience
The Japanese futon comfortably contours to your body’s natural alignment and provide optimal support for your body during the night. One of the most common reasons for unrestful and troubling sleep is unnatural sleeping positions. Many people find it easier to sleep on a firm mattress and more comfortable than a soft mattress.
Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Japanese futons can promote a healthier lifestyle by prolonging your sleep cycle and boose quality of sleep. The shikibuton mattress has been used in Japan for thousands of years and their good health conditions and often illustrated by experts. Associated with their good health is the quality of sleep that they get each night.
Prevents Night Sweats
Another great advantage that separates Japanese futons from Western mattresses is that they are made from 100% cotton and not synthetic fiber. This allows the cotton to have better breathability and a natural cooling effect on the mattress. If you get night sweats often, an organic shikibuton will leave you feeling fresh and dry in the morning.
Japanese futons are made with 100% cotton and free of any toxic materials. The futons contain a natural cotton filling that is sourced using sustainable production methods and free synthetic fibers and fabrics. The shikibuton is the perfect choice if you're looking for eco-friendly bedding.
Great Support for your Back
Several studies have suggested the best mattress for your back is correlated with the way your mattress contours to your back’s natural upward curve when lying flat. A Japanese futon mattress is designed with a firm pad that provides a sufficient amount of soft cushioning on top to provide support for your back. Noticeable differences such as an improvement from your back pain and overall posture.
Good Value for Your Money
A new mattress and frame can cost up to a few thousand dollars and would be significantly expensive if you have more than a few rooms in your household. Most Japanese futons are cost-effective and will cost you a few hundred dollars. In addition, they will last you many years of comfort due to not having polyurethane foam pads or soft-coil springs, which can compress the mattress and lead to the mattress getting unstable and uncomfortable.
One of the many great features of a Japanese futon is its many uses in a household. Thanks to its compactness and mobility, you can practically carry it anywhere in your home and place it where you please. You can finally sleep in the perfect spot in your home and without having to carry a bulky mattress in order to do so. If you have many house guests over at one time, the Japanese futon mattress acts perfectly as a small couch or chair.
Great for Small Spaces
Completely practical for a small home or apartment. Ideal for compact living spaces and small apartments because of the flexible and light nature of the shiki futon. Sometimes, moving into a new apartment or small dorm room leaves you with few options for your bedding situation. The shiki futon is designed in a variety of types such as a Japanese roll up bed or bedroll to solve any conflicting space situations. Another benefit is that you can fold the futon into a compact size and free up space.
In Japan, rooms are designed in a minimalist fashion with a bare floor and minimal decor. Simple living is of the essence and floor sleeping is common in Japan. A Japanese futon mattress with tatami mat on the floor is the ideal sleeping situation in many Japanese homes. Minimalism and its principles have shaped the Japanese's way of living in the way they sleep, eat, and go about their daily lives. This idea of simplistic living can be known as a zen way of living. A shikibuton is typically paired with a tatami mat and futon blanket but they can also be standalone mats for floor sleeping.
The mattress is light and slim enough to be folded and stored away in a closet, underneath a bed frame, or a car. With a futon mattress, you can efficiently move into a new home or living space. Simply fold the futon and store it into the back of a car. Don't have a sleeping bag for your camping trip? The shikibuton makes a convenient mattress for any situation.
Where to buy a Shikibuton Around You
If you live in one of the major US cities like Chicago, Seattle, or NYC, then you're in luck of finding a Japanese futon for sale in local stores. From my experience, many local stores are commonly operated with mom-and-pop business standards so you can expect great customer service and high-quality, handcrafted authentic shikibutons.
From my research, California cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have many local shops that carry traditional Japanese shikibutons that are readily available for sale. SleepExquisite is a local shop in the Los Angeles area where you can buy from a range of Japanese style bedding such as a traditional shikibuton, folding foam mats, tatami platforms, and more.
For people living on the big island of Hawaii, you can find authentic shikibutons for sale at local stores like Dragon Mama Futon Shop. They specialize in Japanese style bedding with the high-quality fiber futons and pillows. They craft their shiki futons from New Zealand wool and premium American organic cotton.
Customers living in the states include a number of independent online stores and major online retailers like eBay and Amazon. Both are reputable companies that have excellent customer service and both carry a broad range of Japanese futons such as shikibuton trifold foam beds to a Japanese bedroll.
Residents in the UK, Australia, or Canada may have trouble finding shikibutons for sale but have available online options such as Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca. Shops such as the Japanese Futon Shop and Futons from Japan are independent online shops that are available for UK residents that want to buy shikibutons and tatami mats.
International and foreign residents looking to buy a shiki futon have the option of importing the futon from Japan or buying from available online stores. Ikea is another great option for international and all customers to find Japanese furniture and have stores available worldwide.
How to Choose a Japanese Futon
The Japanese futon comes in a variety of different sizes, comfort levels, and forms to suit the right occasion. You can find the futon in the form of a floor sleeping mat, a trifold foam futon, a portable futon, and a traditional Japanese futon. Organic and authentic Japanese futons are more premium choices and come at a higher price point.
Traditional Japanese futons are suitable for those that prefer a mattress that is less thick than the average Western mattress and a firm surface padding that makes it easy to sleep comfortably with or without a bed frame.
For a more convenient option, a Japanese roll up bed or bedroll is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a lighter and compact sized mattress that’s suitable for smaller spaces like apartments and dorms and outdoor activities such as camping.
Most Japanese futons on the market are typically made with high-grade sourced materials and constructed for durability. Above is a list of the best Japanese futons with regards to its price, size, and quality.
How Much Do Shikibutons Cost
Buying a shikibuton will generally fit the bill for the average consumer in the US. Certainly, price and quality both sit on opposite sides of a balance scale and quality seem to diminish when price increases and vice versa.
The standard price of a high-quality, Japanese handcrafted futon is considered a great value because of their high-quality construction and durability to last many years. Prices will vary depending on size and an authentic or organic futon will cost more because of factors such as craftsmanship and quality.
Shikibuton vs Futon
The main difference between a shikibuton and a Western futon is the mattresses thickness and what they're used for. A shikibuton is half the thickness of a Western futon and typically used in the household as a floor mattress for means of sleeping on the floor. Generally, shikibutons are folded and stored away in the daytime to clear space in the room. A Western futon is often used as a couch cushion, which you may have sat on one before when you had visited a friend's house or owned one in the past.
Natural & organic: An organic shikibuton is typically constructed of 100% organic cotton and other natural materials. An authentic Japanese mattress captures the essence of green living.
Floor sleeping mattress: In traditional Japanese floor bed setup, the floor is the foundation for the tatami mat, and then layered with a shikibuton and kakebuton. In the West, futons are often laid on top of a standard bed frame or used as a couch.
Thickness: Western futons are thicker and larger than shiki futons and are usually half the size in thickness.
The dimensions of a standard shikibuton mattress are twin, full, queen, and king. Thickness can range from 3 to 4 inches. Most sizes of a shikibuton mattress fit standard bed frames. Japanese platform bed frames are another popular choice and can fit any standard mattress including the Japanese futon.
The size chart below is courtesy of J-Life, EMOOR, and futonbedsfromjapan.[table id=4 /]
How to Make a Traditional Japanese Futon Bed
A traditional Japanese futon bed consists of 6 essential elements to make the complete bed.
What you will need:
Shikibuton: The shikibuton typically lays on top of a tatami mat or directly on the floor.
Futon cover or fitted sheet: A thin, fabric sheet to cover the futon and is the first layer on the ground.
Kakebuton: A futon comforter or Japanese quilt that provides warmth and a comfortable weight.
Makura: A pillow half the size of American pillows and filled with buckwheat husks or beans.
Kakebuton cover: Fitted sheet to cover the kakebuton and for hygienic purposes.
Tatami mat: Thin floor mat made of woven rush grass and where futons are typically spread.
Japanese Platform bed frame: A solid wood bed frame to support a tatami mat and futon bed.
How to Set Up a Japanese Futon Bed
1. Lay out a thin fabric sheet on the floor as the first layer.
2. Lay out the shikibuton mattress on top of the fabric sheet or a tatami if you have one.
3. Use a futon cover (fitted sheet) to spread over the shikibuton.
4. Fold any excess or loose fabric underneath the shikibuton for a snug fit.
5. Place the kakebuton on top of the shikibuton.
6. If there is a fitted sheet for the kakebuton, fit the kakebuton inside the fitted sheet.
7. Tighten the sides of the fitted sheet for a secure fit.
8. Once the kakebuton is tightly fitted, turn the kakebuton over with the open oval side to face upward.
9. Place a Japanese pillow (makura) at the head of the futon.
10. Slightly fold the kakebuton from one corner.
11. Your Japanese futon bed is ready!
How to Take Care of a Japanese Futon
The process of washing a shiki futon should be done regularly due to mold building up under the futon. With proper care and diligence on maintaining the shiki futon, you can extend the lifetime of your Japanese futon mattress for up to 2-3 years or more.
How to Maintain a Shikibuton
To prevent molding and to provide proper care to your shiki futon, wash and dry regularly and make it a routine. Here's a quick guide on cleaning and maintaining a shiki futon:
- Fold and store the futon when you're not using it.
- Keep the area where you place the futon clean.
- Wash kakebuton, futon cover, and pillows often.
- Wash the futon by hand or a machine.
- Air the futon as often as possible.
How to Wash a Shikibuton
- A shikibuton can be washed in a suitable size washing machine and a dryer
- Remove any covers and extra blankets before placing the shikibuton in the washing machine and dryer
- Another suitable method is hand washing and hang drying the shikibuton
- For more ideas on how to clean your Japanese futon mattress, check out this detailed guide on how to clean a futon mattress.
Experience the Authentic Traditional Style of Bedding
The shikibuton is part of the traditional bed set up in Japan that have been used in tatami rooms, which dates back to the Muromachi Period.
A traditional bedding style in Japan consists of a complete set that includes a shikibuton and kakebuton. This bedding has a rich history into Japanese culture and history, being the standard sleeping setup in Japan for centuries.
Today, if you visit Japan and stay at a modern hotel or hostel, it would be a rare occasion for the hotel to accommodate guests with this style of bedding due to Japan being a popular tourist attraction. In result, the Asian floor mattress has been replaced with its Western counterpart in many tourist areas of Japan.
If you’re ever in Japan, seize the opportunity to visit a ryokan or temple lodging to stay overnight in a tatami mat room and experience the traditional Japanese style of bedding yourself.
Futon beds are usually prepared for you by an innkeeper on the first night of your stay. For the following days of your stay, you prepare your own bedding. If you're not comfortable with preparing your own bedding then ask the innkeeper to show you step by step on how to prepare a futon bed.
You’ll get the chance to sleep on a piece of history and see how a traditional Japanese futon bed is made. Don’t forget to buy an authentic shikibuton in Japan while you’re there!
Check out these reviews on my thoughts on which mattress came out on top of the best Japanese futon for its quality and price:
Go here for more information on the traditional Japanese bed:
Looking for alternative floor sleeping mats?
Check out this guide on how to sleep on the floor properly and see the best floor mattress ideas for sleeping on the ground:
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