What is futon?

Futon

Futon 布団 is the Japanese traditional bed, which includes a mattress (shikibuton敷き布団) and a comforter (kakebuton 掛け布団).

The shikibuton is different from Western mattresses, because it is at the same time flexible enough to be folded, and sturdy enough to provide good back support. The kakebuton is a thick comforter, which offers a warm, soft feeling.

In many Japanese houses and traditional hotels, futon are used instead of Western beds, because of their practicality and comfort. When not being used, the futon is generally stored in a special closet called oshiire(押入れ)

Past and Present

Culture

Banner Picture : Sleeping Buddha

(1) Source: “Mukashi kara atta Nihon no shingu-shi” by Hikaru Ogawa; 参考文献『昔からあった日本のベッド 日本の寝具史』小川光暘著.
(2) Source: “Shinjo to shingu no bunka-shi” by Kōyō Ogawa; 参考文献「寝所と寝具の文化史」小川光暘(雄山閣).

Since its beginning until now, the appearance and materials of the futon have changed a lot. During the Heian period (794-1185), the aristocracy used to sleep directly in beds made of tatami. The common people rested at night in more simple piles of straw. 1 In the Edo period (1476-1868), the domestic production of cotton began, and people started using mattresses crafted with this material. Since in this period some people used to sleep with heavy kimono-like quilts, the yogi (夜着) or kaimaki, but without blankets, the word futon meant only mattress.2 Because cotton was not produced in large scale in this time, buying a single futon would be as expensive as buying a luxury car today. It was only after the Meiji period (1868-1912), when Japan started to import cheaper cotton from India and factories made the production process faster and less costly, that futon started to become more affordable for the people in general.2

Still popular today and present in many Japanese households, the futon is an important part of the country's traditional culture and way of life. When walking around Japan during sunny days, it is possible to see many futon being dried in balconies and windows. Japanese people do this to guarantee that the futon will not get contaminated with mold. Nowadays, people can also dry their futon during the rainy season by using futon dryers, electric devices that warm and dry the futon.
Another possible option is purchasing special bed frames that allow air circulation, and prevent the formation of mold. There is a saying in Japanese that the sturdiness of the futon does not let the body turn "soft". This means that the support that the futon offers for the body helps to avoid problems with bad posture and back pain.

Comfort and Practicality

Function

Some of the main reasons for the popularity of futon are its practicality and functionality. The light weight and flexibility of futon allow it to be easily folded or rolled over, be it for storage, moving out or traveling. By storing the futon while it is not being used, the person can create more free space in the bedroom. This also makes cleaning the room faster and less complicated. Unfolding the futon for use is also just as easy, making it a very practical alternative when receiving guests.

Not only a bed, the futon can also serve as a sitting cushion, turning a room more cozy and inviting. Another very important characteristic of futon is the benefits for the user's health. The density of the mattress ensures good back support and corrects the alignment of the spine, preventing posture problems and back pains. The comforter also contributes to the quality of sleep, since its weight and thickness maintain the user warm during winter, while the materials (cotton) avoid excessive heat during summer.

How is it made?

Craftsmanship

The futon mattress produced by EMOOR uses a “sandwich” structure which combines one layer of sturdier polyester placed between two softer layers of the same material. This gives the mattress a smooth and comfortable feeling, while still providing good back support. The stuffing of the comforter is made of polyester, wool, and duck or goose down, making it pleasant and soft to the touch. The covers for the shikibuton and kakebuton are carefully sewed one by one. EMOOR's futon combines technology and tradition, by using both machinery and authentic Japanese craftsmanship. In this way, EMOOR hopes to keep Japanese culture alive. EMOOR offers different cover patterns and colors, as well as designs striving for comfort and practicality. Our company also sells shikibuton models with different levels of thickness and sturdiness, giving clients the option of choosing which one better fits their sleeping habits.

How to take care of your futon

Care

To maintain the quality of the futon, it is important to pay attention to a few precautions. Futon are not all the same, so the right way to take care of futon is also different. The most common type of futon is the one that cannot be washed. To keep the futon with a pleasant smell and to avoid mold, it must be dried in the sun regularly. Sleeping directly on the mattress can reduce the durability and cleanliness of the shikibuton. Because of this, Japanese people generally use covers for the shikibuton and for the kakebuton. The material of the covers is also important, since they should be made of cloth capable of wicking away the natural moisture of the body. To maintain the futon clean and fresh, the covers are also changed and washed regularly.

Depending on the stuffing, the mattress may need to be dried more or less frequently. Shikibuton made of cotton need to be dried at least once a week, while the ones made of feather only need to be dried once per month. The difference of the washable futon is that it has a removable outer pad, which can be washed. Because of this, the covers do not need to be changed so frequently. The washable outer pad makes the maintenance of the futon and the prevention of mold easier. This is a nice alternative for people who live in houses without balconies, as the outer pad can be dried indoors.

Find the ideal futon for you

Futon sizes

When buying a futon, someone who is not familiar with the difference in mattress sizes in Japan may feel a bit confused.
Sometimes the names of the sizes or the measurements are different. Looking at these tables may help to identify which size is the one most appropriate for each buyer:
Japanese size Measurements (cm) Measurements (in)
Baby 70 x 120 or 75 x 130 28 x 47 or 29 x 51
Junior 90 x 185 35 x 73
Single 100 x 200 39 x 79
Semi-double 120 x 210 47 x 83
Double 140 x 210 55 x 83
Queen 160 x 210 65 x 83
King 180 x 210 71 x 83

American size Measurements (cm) Measurements (in)


Twin or Single 99 x 190 39 x 75
Twin Extra Long 99 x 203 39 x 80
Full or Double 137 x 190 54 x 75
Queen 152 x 203 60 x 80
California King 183 x 213 72 x 84
King 193 x 203 76 x 80
Rem-chan
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