My Japanese Futon Mattress serves me well. My backache disappeared after sleeping on it the first night. I get a solid sleep session in now. I wake up full of energy, and when I get up, I don’t hobble in pain for my first few steps. (I can’t believe I suffered for two years because of a bad mattress.)
What Is A Traditional Japanese Futon Mattress?
If you are familiar with, or as enchanted as I am, by Japanese culture, then you would know there are a few things that stand out as exceptional.
Tea ceremonies, samurai, sushi, ikebana, bonsai, anime, cherry blossoms and … japanese futon mattress!
So ancient yet so modern, the Japanese people have managed to keep the integrity of their culture alive, and we in the West can use some of these ideas to enhance and benefit our lifestyles.Sleeping on a japanese futon mattress, for those of you who have never experienced it, is a dream.
Basically, a futon is a mattress that gets stuffed with 100% cotton, covered with a durable weave, cotton cover and is able to get rolled out, like a mat. It is simple, minimalist and convenient.
Japanese futons have four components to them:
1. The Futon “Base”:
A rectangular mat, called a tatami, gets laid out on the floor and the futon mattress gets rolled out on top of this mat. The tatami keeps the futon mattress clean. Even if you sweep with regularity, there will always be dust or dirt particles at ground level.
Tatami mats get made from woven rush (igusa) and packed with rice straw (Toko), So their second function is to give a bit of softness between your mattress and a hard floor.
They will also give you better support – especially if you put your Japanese Futon mattress on a slat base. The Tatami mat will give nice support – while still allowing the mattress to breath.
2. The Futon “Mattress”:
The Japanese futon mattress is a shikibuton. This is the part of the futon we know as a Japanese futon. It is also where the confusion comes in as many manufacturers now call any mattress that folds up, or doubles as a couch, a futon.
Traditionally, Japanese futons, or shikibutons, get made by stuffing cotton woven covers with pure cotton fibers. Today commercial Japanese futon mattresses get stuffed with polyester more often than cotton.
Some manufacturers use high-grade eco-friendly polyester blends that are anti-bacterial, anti-mites and hypo-allergenic. Hygroscopic cotton is sometimes used too.
3. The “Pillow”:
The traditional Japanese pillow is more akin to a neck cradle, padded with buckwheat hulls, called sobakowa. Ancient takamakura get bought as antique or vintage collector’s items. But you can buy sobakawa (buckwheat hull) pillows, online.
These pillows, like their traditional counterparts, have health benefits that promote longevity. More on that further down.
4. The “Blanket”:
To cover yourself in colder climes you will need a blanket called a kakebuton. This lightweight quilt is also made of cotton. In the West, they get called comforters. They can roll up and stored along with the shikibuton.
When you buy a traditional Japanese futon mattress, you can buy all these components separately or as a set. You can use Western-style sheets and pillows and even buy or make a base if a tatami is not your style. Everything about a japanese futon mattress shouts versatile, practical and convenient.
My Japanese futon is not traditional, but it is definitely not far off. In fact, my non-traditional Japanese futon suits me better than a traditional one would because it looks impressive as a couch too.
I can roll it up or leave it “unmade”. I can use it as a couch; I can change rooms and sleep in my “bedroom” or make my lounge “the bedroom”.
My Japanese futon is a pure non-toxic mattress. My breathing has become more profound, and my allergies have disappeared.
But enough about me…
Would you switch to a traditional japanese futon mattress, given a chance?
Or maybe you’d settle for an almost authentic, Japanese style futon?
Why would you opt for sleeping on the ground and rolling up your bed every day?
…Let’s find out.
Pro tip: Don’t get caught out by the word “futon”, which gets flung around way too casually these days and can mislead you into thinking any old fold -out couch can be a futon.
Some people may not want to sleep close to the ground, for their own personal reasons. And if you look around you can find japanese futon mattress that are lighter, although they will might be from toxic materials.
So as you can see, there are benefits to both styles. It depends on why and what you want your japanese bed roll.
9 Reasons To Choose A Traditional Japanese Futon Mattress
1. Great way to transition toddlers from cribs to beds. Or from parental beds to their own sleeping spaces.
2. Japanese futon mattress is a Perfect space-saver, ideal for tiny houses, small apartments and studio living.
3. Practical: Stores out of sight, ideal for extra beds for multiple guests.
4. Healthy: Made from natural fibers, this increases the lifespan of the futon and also means, with proper care, it retains its shape. It looked after; your futon will continue to be a comfortable platform to sleep on for years.
5. Affordable: Japanese futon mattress sell for a fraction of the price of a conventional bed, so there is a futon to match everyone’s budget.
6. Versatile: The lower price also means you can buy more futons for guests and still have space to utilize “guest” rooms as workspaces, extra living rooms or playrooms and
7. Adaptable: Can get made thicker for a softer base. Add layers for a more padded sleep experience. Some of you will find a thin japanese futon mattress too hard. This solved by either adding a tatami mat underneath or adding layers on top of the shikibuton (Japanese futon mattress) .
If your futon is on slats, change them out for a tatami instead, this will improve the smoothness of the mattress. Slatted bases can often cause the mattress to become lumpy.
8. Breathable: Japanese futons, because they get made from cotton, absorb sweat. This makes sleeping on hot nights a better experience, and you don’t feel sticky and slimy all night. Because they are easy to hang up, and made from cotton, the sweat will get “aired out”.
9. Low to the Ground: They are nice and low to the ground so you never have to worry about falling off – which is great especially if you have children
The Major Benefits Of Sleeping On A Japanese Futon Mattress
A Japanese mattress gives you a good night’s sleep.
We spend 1/3 of our lives asleep. Quality sleep is essential, without it we develop a host of health problems.
Sleep deficiency means we spend our waking hours feeling grumpy, stressed and tired. Sleeping on the floor is better for your health.
Japanese futon mattresses are firm but comfortable. This gives you a good night’s sleep. Some people need a period to adjust.
I found after my first night, my back pain that used to creep up at 2 a.m. and mess with me until I arose disappeared. And three months on still no pain. We do roll and flip ours about three times a week though.
Sleeping on a Japanese Futon can have many health benefits.
A Japanese futon supports spinal health
Sleep is important because while we sleep our bodies repair cell damage, recharge our batteries and remove waste from brain cells.
Did you know that the spine houses your central nervous system and your CNS is what connects every system in your body to each other and therefore all body functions connect, via the spine?
Japanese Futon Mattresses tend to be stiffer and if you use it on the floor with a tatami mat you will get a well supported sleep. Compare this to a soft mattress, the futon does not allow your joints to become unsupported and sag. Some Osteopaths say that if your joints are not supported well by your mattress, they can become overstretched when you sleep and overnight contribute to back ache.
So, bad spinal health = bad general health. We underestimate the importance of spinal health.
Japanese roll-up beds provide a healthier bedroom environment
Dust mites and mold cause an array of health issues. By sleeping on a japanese futon mattress, you keep your sleeping space cleaner.
Mold can’t grow in the damp from sweat or humid conditions because your futon should get aired regularly.
I find it hard to believe, but each person can lose a pound of skin (dead scales) a year on or into their mattress. You can imagine this makes the mattresses a breeding ground for dust mites. This is just bad news, especially for asthma sufferers.
Beating your futon ensures dust, and the mites that will follow, are less likely to cause respiratory problems, like asthma, and allergies.
Reduce sweat during the night
A futon has other benefits too. Unlike a traditional divan bed, the mattress of a futon is placed on a wooden slatted base. This can be helpful in several ways. When we sleep, each person loses half a pint of moisture a night. A mattress placed on a slatted base allows greater circulation of air to reach the mattress. This can help to reduce sweating during the night.
Some commercial mattresses can be contaminated with toxins which does not help asthma or other allergies. However, the wadding of futons are made from natural fibres. For me this makes Japanese Futon mattresses, especially certified organic futons a healthier choice.
Research also shows getting a new bed is more effective than sleeping pills. It is said it can improve a night’s sleep by 45 minutes.
The good news is futons come in different grades of mattress – so you can choose a softer version, rather than the hard rock versions associated with Japan!
What To consider When Buying A Futon mattress
I bought my japanese futon mattress online. It was simple. I saw the picture, chose the size, added a cover. I bought it from an online company that only has the one style. It came with a very light fold up the base. So it doubles as a daytime couch, and we sleep on it every night.
It is a 100% cotton stuffed mattress in a thick cover. It is cumbersome though. And I had to buy an additional cover to protect it from dirt. But it is worth it, king-size and 8” in width, built for heavyweights and built to last.
The whole process was as simple as a Japanese futon bed!
How To Choose A Futon Mattress
Well, a Futon mattress could help you go along with it. It can be the most worthy investment that you could buy for your home having the most flexible, supportive, and bouncy mattress that you need for sleep and relaxation.
Another good reason to have a futon mattress in your home is it is relatively cheaper compared to other brands in the market.
While there may be a Futon mattress that has a higher price, it ensures you an excellent quality that gives you the comfort that you need and versatility that can perfectly fit your interior with its replaceable covers.
With that, we will give you the complete Futon mattress buying guide. See the details below.
What should I look for in a Futon mattress?
To get the ideal mattress that would fit your needs, it is important to determine what you are looking for and what is essential to you. Here are some points to think about when purchasing a good Futon mattress:
Key points to consider:
- How you will be using the mattress?
Will you be using the mattress as your daily convertible, occasional sleeper, or essentially as a bed?
How you use it should be an important factor in buying a mattress. If you wish to regularly use it as a bed or daily convertible, get the mattress that best suits your sleeping needs. But if you want to use it as an occasional sleeper, get a mattress that is perfect for your sitting pleasure.
- What is the size you need?
To determine the size that you want, measure the area (LxW) of the mattress that will lie on. If you are replacing an old mattress, get its size, and use it when looking for a new one.
These are the sizes available in Futon mattresses:
TWIN – 39” x 75”
TWIN XL – 39″ x 79″
FULL – 54″ x 75″
FULL XL – 54″ x 79″
QUEEN – 60″ x 80″
CAL KING – 72″ x 84″
EASTERN KING – 76″ x 80″
- Do you need a soft, medium-firm, or firm support mattress?
Depending on which type of mattress you want to have, know that a soft mattress has a very plush surface; a medium-firm mattress has just the right amount of support, bendable, and can be used as a platform bed mattress; while a firm mattress gives you superior support that enhances any sleep environment.
- Do you sleep on a stomach, side, or back position?
A stomach sleeper usually needs a firm mattress, while a side sleeper usually chooses a soft to medium-firm mattress so that your shoulders will comfortably sink into the mattress and would put less pressure on your back and spine. And a back sleeper can sleep on anything but usually chooses a medium-firm mattress.
- Are there any allergy concerns?
Unfortunately, many mattresses accumulate dust and dirt, therefore, it is needed to be cleaned out regularly. However, Futon mattress has hypoallergenic and organic models that can help you with your allergies. You can opt for CocoMat Hypoallergenic Coconut Mattress or Tranquility 2 Hypoallergenic Mattress.
What are the important factors to consider in buying a Futon mattress?
A thicker, firmer, and the more expensive mattress doesn’t mean it is the best option for you. Everyone has unique needs and wants regardless of their level of relaxation and usage. Here are some factors that you might want to consider:
Futon mattress offers a variety of cheap and discounted items that may suit your budget. You can purchase Futon’s best-selling mattress for as low as $738.48 only. There are also high-end mattresses that are being offered at a 70% discount.
- Size and type of the Futon frame
A good thing to do before buying a mattress and a Futon frame is to measure your room. Ideally, a queen-sized bed won’t fit in a small room. While it may look the most comfortable and spacious, if you have space constraints, then we recommend you find a small bed frame and mattress.
For Futon frames, there are several choices that you can opt for like rustic, outdoor, leather, organic, wood, wall hugger, and many more.
Materials used in creating a mattress would determine its durability and usability. We recommend choosing a Futon mattress made of durable materials like wool, polyester, block foam, memory foam, latex foam, innerspring, cotton blend, or cotton batting.
Moreover, you must check its warranty to ensure you get to have a high-quality Futon mattress and this will indicate how long the manufacturer thinks the mattress will last.
But of course, you have to take proper and excellent care to have a long-lasting mattress. According to them, a properly-taken mattress will last up to 20 years.
Comfort is the utmost factor that every customer should consider when buying a mattress. To maximize your purchase, make sure that you choose a mattress that gives comfort not just in sleeping but also by sitting.
A good tip to consider is to get rid of lumpy, uneven, or bumpy mattresses.
Usually, Futon mattresses are made to appear and feel comfortable just like the other mattresses available anywhere, But the materials used in these products are customized to achieve your level of comfort.
The interior design of your room or house will matter when choosing a mattress. Well, that would be the case if you want your place to be aesthetically good. To achieve that, you need to consider how your mattress will appear.
Here’s a tip:
A foam-filled, solid mattress will hold its shape for a longer time and even better when used for Futons that are commonly used as couches. While the coil-filled mattress is comfortable but has a higher tendency to lose its shape over time.
- Mattress cover
Your mattress choice of color and fabric will be depending on your preferences. For choices, it could be plain colors or solid patterns. There are also fabric choices like microsuede, microfiber, and cotton.
There are also water-resistant, hypoallergenic, wool, textured, patterned, organic covers, and outdoor covers.
It would be best if the thickness of your Futon mattress will match its Futon frame.
Here’s a tip:
A smooth, thin mattress looks better with minimalist frames. While thick mattresses will perfectly match in thick wood pieces.
What are the types of Futon mattresses?
Foam Futon Mattress
The Foam Futon Mattresses are considered the gold standard for all types of mattresses. It has an average life span of 15 years if well taken care of. Also, it has lesser chances of off-gassing your home since it is made for durability to reduce the number of petrochemicals. Accordingly, this is the most comfortable type of mattress.
- can comfortably support your body
- for all side, back, and stomach sleepers
- can last longer
- fire retardant free
- more expensive
- not recommended if you won’t be using it regularly
Spring Futon Mattress
Spring Futon Mattress is the old standard for mattresses. It is made of micro-coils with a quilted layer covering to make it firmer and comfortable, and Bonnell coils to give more support that alleviates certain pressure points in the body.
This is recommendable for those who have someone to sleep with. Due to its micro-coils in the mattress, it will allow you to freely move without affecting your sleeping buddy. Plus, its Egyptian cotton will help maintain its shape for a long period of time.
- stays firm
- can last long
- individually pocketed
- double tempered steel
- heavy and difficult to fold
- not recommendable for sleeper sofa/convertible couch
Cotton Futon Mattress
The Cotton Futon Mattress is best recommended for those who have a tight budget. Aside from being the best affordable option, this is made with USDA Certified Organic Cotton that is built chemical-free.
This is a resemblance to a Japanese-style mattress that is considered to be very firm and good when laid down on the floor. Its strength and stability come from felting long fiber cotton into perfect layers. This chemical-free product has a number of organic cotton mattresses available, and you can have the luxury to customize it according to your preference.
- easy to fold
- do not offer much support as other mattresses
- easily wears down
Wool Futon Mattress
The Wool Futon Mattress is known for its ultimate comfort. It is made of all-natural American grown virgin wool with its high crimp that adds loft and comfort. Its isolating micro coils give you support to the lower back and extremities while contouring to your hips, shoulders. This is the best option if you want to wake up without any soreness and relieve your body aches.
Additionally, the wool doesn’t result in static electricity, so it ensures safety especially for children.
- relieves pressure
- can last longer
- dust mite resistant
- natural repellant of moisture
- unavailable most of the time
Innerspring Futon Mattress
The Innerspring Futon Mattress is one of the most popular mattresses according to the brand. This double-tempered high strength steel innerspring is surrounded by two layers of high resilience foam for added cushioning. It gives you a restful sleep by absorbing the body pressure and gives high density for additional comfort.
This is highly recommended for side sleepers and is perfect for convertible futon frames or the Futon sofa sleeper.
- fire retardant
- soft and supple
- not for regular use
- shorter life expectancy
Latex Futon Mattress
The Latex Futon Mattress is one of their best-selling mattresses. It is made of 100% chemical-free, pure Dunlop latex that is engineered through natural manufacturing methods. It is also made with 733 3″ micro coils that are surrounded by 14-32b lbs.
This is a perfect choice for those who are side and back sleepers. Their pocketed spring coils give you superior support and used to help limit the motion transfer when you have someone sleeping by your side.
- relieves pressure
- can last longer
- anti-microbial and dust mite resistant
- has temperature control for all seasons
What are the most comfortable Futon mattresses?
This is available in both Queen and Full-sized mattress.
Or there is a Royal Foam -It consists of four layers of polyester blend and cotton, two layers of memory foam, and a layer of polyurethane foam. All designed to give a thick and soft figure that works as couch and bed usage.
It is 8-inches high and works best for support and strength to carry regular and heavy loads making it the most conventional mattress in the market.
- easy to carry and store
- available in different colors
Emily Futon Couch Bed
This bed represents mid-century furniture styling that would perfectly fit your space’s interior. This minimalist couch bed is designed with Sealy special pocket coil for extra support and longer life than the usual sofa sleepers you see in the shopping stores.
It has 3 positions backrest that can be reclined to whatever desired position and comfort you want.
- solid metal base
- easy-to-clean fabric
- fire retardant free
- European click-chack mechanism
- has pocket coil design
Serta Cypress Double Sided Innerspring Futon Mattress
This is one of their best-selling affordable mattresses that has low volatile organic compound emission for indoor air quality. It is a 255 high-quality innerspring unit that provides a wonderful support system.
It is also surrounded by 2, 1″ pieces of CertiPUR foam giving you a supple, body-conforming comfort. Moreover, it is tufted with 18 polyester nylon tufts to provide stability plus a box casing construction to complete the Cypress.
- made with ozone depleters
- fire retardants
- contains cotton fiber product
- durable upholstery
Nirvana Stanford Futon
This is perfect for a contemporary and minimalistic interior design made with the highest quality construction. It has a standard measurement of full Futon mattress of 54″ x 75″ up to 8″ thick. This product needs extra care to make sure that natural materials used for making this product are to be preserved well. It uses 100% solid hardwood as the prime element in designing.
This can be used either for a lounger, bed, or mainly sofa. You have nothing to worry about how to convert it since it is designed to be remarkably simple and doesn’t require much manpower.
- made with polyester and polyester blend
- covers are serged and safely stitched
- made in USA quality standards
- available in different colors
- guarantees no limping
Japanese Futon Review: Best Japanese Futon Mattresses you can buy
There is something for every taste in our reviewed futon products.
Whether you want a traditional, lightweight roll-up with, or without, all the add-ons, a heavier thicker shikibuton with no trimmings, or a futon mattress sleeper couch. I have found the best products, based on quality, craftsmanship, value for money, aesthetics, and functionality.
I have tried to source brands that offer the healthiest, non-toxic options, as well as trying to find the perfect compromise between east and west.
We can benefit, healthwise, by adopting this Japanese style futons while still cashing in on the feeling of space and solidness of the bigger heavier versions that get built for larger people.
…..Let’s get started:
Authentic Japanese Futon Mattress For Minimalist Living
The following three brands all offer very affordable, simple, roll-up futons. They have a range of sizes and colors. The covers are not cotton though, they are polyester, which is why they are cheaper. But that aside, any of these will work well for you if you want a quick, light, compact traditional style Japanese futon bed.
EMOOR Shikibutons – Made In Japan: Best Quality: Available in Sets
EMOOR Japanese futon mattresses get made by skilled Japanese craftsmen. They use 100% cotton for all their fabric covers and sheeting. The stuffing of their mattresses are 50% French wool and 50% polyester.
Not any old polyester, but a particular eco-friendly type, that is also anti-bacterial and anti-mite. The wool and cotton allow good breathability, extra support, and durability.
All there Japanese Futon products are of a high standard, and their range is quite vast so I will give you some sizes and options here, but it is by no means their entire range.
EMOOR Japanese Traditional Japanese futon mattress “Classe” comes in 5 sizes. Classe is EMOOR’s best selling futon series. They have the normal length mattresses and have also got extra long ones. All their shikibutons are 2.5” thick.
Sizes: (measurements are in inches and are width by length)
Twin Long: 39 x 83; Weight: 10.65lbs
Full: 55×79; Weight: 10.8lbs
Full Long: 55×83; Weight: 18.5lbs
Queen: 63×79; Weight: 16.2lbs
Queen Long:63×83; Weight: 19.84lbs
As you can see the more extended size weighs more, apparently, so it is a good idea to figure out if your Japanese futon mattress will be light enough for you to lift and roll, or lift and hang, to air.
EMOOR sell sets, which include the shikibuton, makura and kakebuton, or individual components and they also sell all the covering and linen you may want.
Their linen is 100% cotton and has odor resistant and anti-bacterial properties. Tatami mats and even anti-snore pillows are available.
Rolling Beds Futon Mattresses – light and compact and affordable
These futon mattresses are lightweight, roll-up with ease and have tie-ups attached to make storage and travel convenient.
They come in three sizes, and the inner is 95% cotton, 5% polyester fibers and 5% resilient foam. They are incredibly light compared to other brands.
The DDFR3308 model being the lightest, only weighing 14 pounds and measuring 3” thick, 30” wide and 80” long. This is their single size.
All their mattresses meet flame retardant laws, made in the USA and come in 15 different colors. They have plain colors from white to blue to purple and coffee, as well as two rose patterned covers, which have a lovely vintage look to them.
The other sizes available are the:
Queen – 3”x 60” x 80” and weighs 28 pounds
Traditional/Full – 3” x 39”x 80” and weighs 17 pounds
Unfortunately, the outer covers are 100% polyester, not cotton. But the weight and convenience and price make them a perfect choice for anyone on a budget or wanting to buy many to use as extra bedding for guests.
Magshion Futon Mattresses – Super light, ten colors to choose from, budget buys
Magshion have a range of ten colors, all with polyester covers. Their filling, though, is from cotton batting with a 1/2” layer of foam in the center.
All their roll-ups are 3’ thick and while they are super light, (their 27”x80” weighs 11 pounds), they don’t have tie-ups like the Rolling Beds and D&D.
So traveling with them may be a tad more hassle, but not much.
The other sizes available are the:
Single 27”x 80” and weighs 11 pounds
Twin 39”x 80” and weighs 15 pounds
Full 54”x 80” and weighs 23 pounds.
Queen 60”x 80” and weighs 28 pounds
Both Rolling Beds Futons and Magshion Futon get rolled out onto a floor or carpet, but if you want to prolong the life of your Japanese futon mattress and get some added support, it may be worth investing in a tatami.
These mats are woven the traditional way, from natural straws and have a lovely scent.
100% Cotton Japanese Styled Futon Mattress – SuperSize Me!
Epic Furnishings Au Natural 8″ Loft All Cotton Filled Futon Mattress
These American style Japanese futon mattress are the real deal. Made with 100% cotton inside and out, they are the opposite of the lightweight, portable Japanese style futons.
These bad boys are HEAVY. This is what I bought (my husband is a powerlifter, so the weight is a piece of pie) Fortunately they do have smaller sizes, but they are still massive compared to other shikibutons.
They use long fiber cotton, so the life of your mattress gets prolonged as long fiber cotton helps to retain shape and posture, but as with all 100% cotton futons, you will need to air and bat.
Also, they cover their futon mattresses with soft microfiber suede, guaranteeing easy cleaning, and smooth twill casing, that adds strength but also looks really good. Their mattresses get finished off by hand, ensuring that added touch of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The thicker mattress makes it the ideal Japanese futon mattress for a base that folds into a couch. Because they are 100% cotton, you are still getting an authentic futon and not a cheap foam knockoff. Bases get sold separately.
I, personally, would only go for a wooden base. My preference for both appearance and strength and durability. Other materials will disappoint by rusting or breaking under the weight eventually. Also, the slats allow aeration, and there will be no “give” that comes with cheap bases that have springs.
Nirvana Futons Westfield Futon Set- Futon Bed Sleeper Couch – The non-traditional pick
I chose this as my top pick for Futon Bed Couches. It is sturdy, from hardwood that has been sustainably sourced and comes with the mattress and base.
An excellent idea for people who sleep on their own futons that get stored away, but want a couch in their home, that looks amazing and can double up as a bed for occasional guests
The mattress is not a real Japanese futon mattress it is a futon style mattress, but I love this frame.
Nirvana has quality furniture, so this is an ideal pick for an occasional fold out bed or for someone in a tiny apartment. Great for a studio flat that has a living room that doubles as a lounge too.
They do sell the bases without mattresses so it may be well worth buying just a base from them and finding a more traditional, but still thicker than usual, Japanese futon mattress.
You can pick from about four styles of base. On top of that, they offer a 5-year warranty on the base and four years on the mattress. The cover is available in a few different options.
And the mattress is light enough for a single person to roll out and put back every day.
Accessories: I have left these links here for anyone interested in finding best futon pillows, tatami mats, and kakebutons.
IKEHIKO Japanese Traditional Igusa Tatami Mattress: Best Tatami Mats
Take a look at these traditional Tatami mats from IKEHIKO. They get Japanese craftsmen, using 100% Japanese Rush Grass. The grass gives a lovely scent.
For those who find it too peculiar it gets reduced by a good airing or using essential oils in burners. But I find the smell pleasant. They fold into 3, making them easy to store.
Their mats come in 3 sizes: (measurements all in inches)
IKEHIKO Tatami Twin: 39 x 83 x 0.5; Folded Size: 39 x 27.5 x 1.5; Weight: 5 pound
IKEHIKO Tatami Small Full: 47.25 x 83 x 0.5; Folded size: 47.25 x 27.5 x 1.5; Weight: 7.5 pounds
IKEHIKO Tatami Full: 55 x 83 x 0.5; Folded size:55 x 27.5 x 1.5; Weight: 9 pounds
These may not be the cheapest mats available, but I find the quality excellent. When it comes to priorities, I would rather spend a bit more on a decent tatami and less on the actual futon.
You can still get away with a cheap futon, but when you buy a tatami, it pays in the long run to get a durable, quality, handcrafted mat.
Pillows/Sobakowa – The traditional, healthy option pillow for improved spinal health, filled with rice or buckwheat. Try one like this: Organic cotton buckwheat pillow from Infinite Nature.
Kakebuton – The J-Life Kakebuton is the perfect topping for your soon to be Japanese sleeping experience. The silk filled comforter that can be dry cleaned. Silk filling regulates body temperature and absorbs moisture, and this traditional comforter is handmade to order, by skilled Japanese craftsmen that use traditional silk pulling methods.
Traditional Japanese Futon Bed vs Western Styled “Japanese” Futon
Before you decide on whether you want to buy a traditional Japanese futon bed or a Japanese styled futon mattress with a western slant, let’s make a quick comparison of the two.
Japanese futon mattresses are:
- Lightweight and Thin
- Made from pure cotton, although some are now made with polyester layering. This means they are cheaper but still hypo-allergenic.
- Easy to roll up and store in a small space.
- Light enough for a single person, even a child, to lift and hang up, to air out
- Good for the spine. A healthy spine means a better quality of sleep. Sleep is crucial to good health.
- Easy to beat and “fluff” for a longer mattress life.
- Versatile – you can use them as a guest bed, day bed, mat to sit on or a regular sleeping bed. They don’t, however, make good couches.
- Practical – they store in small spaces, can be set up anywhere with enough floor space. This makes them ideal for small apartments and tiny house living.
- Convenient – easy to take with you when travelling. If you are staying with people, you can bring your Japanese futon mattress along, and your hosts don’t need to worry if they have no extra beds.
- Durable – with proper care, your Japanese futon will last at least five years with nightly use, and even longer if you only use it sometimes.
Compare this to a Western-styled futon. Most futon-style beds are actually glorified sleeper couches or fold-out beds. With their primary use being a couch that folds out into a bed.
Western futons are by comparison:
- Thicker in width.
- Heavier in weight, this makes them very difficult to fold up and spread out on a daily basis.
- Often made from polyurethane foam (memory foam) and other toxic materials. This shortens the lifespan of the mattress and may cause respiratory problems.
- Not so good for your back once they start to lose shape. More difficult to hang up to beat and aerate.
- Due to the added weight, when used as a bed they are often left flat and not rolled up daily. This makes them more prone to becoming moldy.
- Have shorter lifespans because they will become lumpy and uncomfortable, and have an adverse effect on your spinal health.
- Take up more space. This is okay if their primary purpose is a daytime couch and occasional fold out bed.
- Sold as a couch that folds out into a bed as opposed to a bed that folds into a couch.
- Limited in how many you can have. They take up space as couches so that you can accommodate fewer guests.
- Still practical as a space saver in some instances, but not as economical on space as a traditional Japanese futon mattress.
- Convenient if you are looking for a couch that folds out into a bed that is off the ground.
How To Care For Your Futon Traditional Japanese Futon mattress?
It is essential to care for your roll-up futon properly. It is really easy and takes hardly any time at all.
Once or twice a week you can hang your futon mattress over a railing, clothes horse or washing line. Secure it if you stay in windy places.
Let it air out for the day when the weather is good.
Using a tennis racket or something similar, you knock the futon firmly. This removes dust, aerates the inner batting and allows the density of the fibers to regain the “puffiness” it had when you got it.
In between, all you need to do is roll it up in the morning and store it until you want to go sleep.
It is that simple. Not doing this will shorten the futon’s lifespan. Also if you don’t roll it up, it may become moldy. And if you don’t bat it, it may become ridden with dust mites.
What about Western Style Futons?
If you have purchased a thick, heavy futon mattress, you will need to be even more particularly when it comes to caring. And you will need assistance when rolling it up and batting it.
If you do this regularly, you will have a long-lasting, solid, comfortable Japanese futon and sleep really well.
If your futon has a slatted base be sure to flip the mattress often to prevent lumps. If it is heavy and you are one person, you can lift the mattress to waist height and drop it.
Do this three or four times, and you will have fluffed the fibers up sufficiently.
If you have a futon that gets used as a couch more often than a bed, you will need to open it out and air it at least twice a month, to prevent mold and retain a good shape.
I hope you are fired up to try out a japanese futon mattress if you don’t already have one. I am speaking from experience, changing back to a Japanese futon was the wisest decision I have made this year…so far.
My backache has disappeared, I have renewed vigor, and my energy levels are way up again since my futon arrived two months ago.
I’d love to hear your comments once you’ve tried yours out. And don’t forget to care for your futon mattress on a regular basis. It will serve you well.