What is a Japanese futon - A Detailed Guide

It would be awesome to have another sleeping or relaxation area in your home, but what if you do not have dedicated space for this addition? A traditional couch or bed setup will most likely take up most of the available space in a room and can involve a considerable amount of money. If you are looking for a more affordable and space-saving alternative, a Japanese futon may offer the perfect solution.

Japanese futon

A   is a type of mattress or cushion that is designed to be used following the traditional Japanese way of sleeping on the floor. The futon can be placed directly on the floor or on a tatami mat that provides a few inches of protection from a cold floor. The tatami mat also offers a bit of elevation from the ground level. Japanese futons are thinner – ranging from 3 to 4 inches in height – compared to Western futons that usually come with their own frames. Even with the thin structure, they still offer comfortable sleeping areas with cotton or fiber filling to provide welcome cushioning for the body. Some of these futons come in quilted constructions that form pillowy pockets for a more inviting surface to sleep on. Aside from being space-saving areas for sleep and relaxation, Japanese futons are also ideal for easing back pain by encouraging the spine to stay in a properly aligned position while you sleep.

Japanese futon

Benefits of a Japanese Futon

Maximizes the Available Space

A Japanese futon is designed to be positioned on the floor, in any room where a sleeping area needs to be set up. The low-profile structure of the futon can be placed in even small spaces or corners of the room without changing the existing layout of furniture and appliances, so there will be no worries that this setup will require drastic changes. After serving its purpose as a relaxation or sleeping spot, it can easily be folded, leaving the area where it was once positioned clutter-free, to be enjoyed for its (original) intended daytime use.

Provides an Instant Sleeping Area

Japanese futons are excellent products to have in your home if you want to accommodate house guests that may need to stay a night or two but do not have the space or the budget to arrange a dedicated guestroom with a traditional bed. When needed, you can easily get the futon from its storage area and arrange it in the room you plan on setting up your guest for a comfortable night of sleep. You can also invest in more of these Japanese futons if you have more space to accommodate more friends or relatives who may want to spend the night in your home after a late night or a get-together. In a matter of minutes, you can set up and your guests can then go straight to bed without the need to wait around a while for the bed to be prepared.

Effortless Setup and Storage

Setting up the Japanese futon when it needs to be used is effortless and can be done by one person. You will only need to get the futon from the storage area, place it on the floor in the chosen room, and unfold it to make it ready for sleep. This procedure is much easier compared to dragging a heavy mattress from  storage. The lightweight Japanese futon will be easy to carry from one room to another so you will not even feel tired even after setting up a few of these portable and comfortable mattresses. Meanwhile, storing the futons is just as easy when they are folded or rolled – they can fit into small spaces inside closets or other storage areas, where they can stay until the next time they are needed as beds.

Helps with Proper Back Alignment

Sleeping on a soft bed or another surface that does not have adequate support can have a negative effect on your posture. Over time, your spine may become curved when you sleep without the necessary support from your sleeping surface. When your back becomes curved in an unnatural manner, you may start to feel pain while you sleep and upon waking up a few hours later. Sleeping on a flat surface, such as on the floor using a Japanese futon, can help encourage better posture by keeping your spine in a correctly aligned position. The lightly padded mattress also helps your body by engaging your lower back muscles even when you are sleeping for long hours throughout the night, which results in the strengthening of the lower back. With the lower back area strengthened, you may feel less back pain and may notice improvements in your posture as well.

Convenient Cleaning and Maintenance

Japanese futons offer the ultimate in cleaning convenience. Their lightweight construction makes it possible for you to easily carry them outside where you can remove dust accumulation by beating the futon like a rug – something that cannot be done with ease when you want to clean a traditional (heavy) mattress. After beating the dust out of the futon, it should be laid out flat under the sun to sanitize it and to remove or prevent unwanted smells. Leaving the futon out in the sun for a while will also serve to kill dust mites that may have taken residence in the structure. Alternatively, the Japanese futon can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or in a washing machine – but you will need to check the manufacturer’s instructions first to be safe.

Affordable Bed Alternative

A Japanese futon provides you with a sleeping area option that will not break the bank. The straightforward construction of the futon comes in an affordable package that costs a fraction of a traditional mattress’ price tag. You may even be able to buy several futons at the price of a single conventional mattress, so you can offer sleeping spots for more than one guest in your home if necessary. If you are looking for a no-frills sleeping area and are not too concerned with lying down on a thinner mattress, the Japanese futon will prove to be a great deal for you. When you clean and care for it properly, you can expect a high-quality futon to last for a long time so you will definitely get more than your money’s worth.

What is a Japanese futon - A Detailed Guide

Key Takeaways

  • A Japanese futon is a thin mattress that is designed to be used in the traditional Japanese manner by being placed directly on the floor or on a tatami mat (also positioned on the floor).
  • These futons maximize the available space by occupying only a small spot in the room while providing a comfortable sleeping area that can easily be folded and stored in a small closet when not in use.
  • They come in lightweight structures that make cleaning and setting up easy for even one person to manage quickly and successfully.
  • Sleeping on a Japanese futon can help alleviate back pain, with the thin mattress and its position on the floor encouraging the back to maintain its properly aligned condition throughout several hours of sleep.
  • Japanese futons offer affordable sleeping area alternatives to conventional mattresses while taking up less room.


Q: What is the difference between a Western futon and a Japanese futon?

A: A futon in a Western setting is essentially a low-lying wooden sofa that has a long cushion and can be converted into a bed for sleeping purposes. On the other hand, a Japanese futon is a thin, slim cushion that is designed to be placed on the floor where it will take on its role as a bed and can easily be rolled or folded when not in use.

Q: Is it comfortable to sleep on the Japanese futon while it is on the floor?

A: It will depend on one’s comfort preferences. Some people may find it uncomfortable to sleep on the futon as they can feel the hardness of the floor underneath, while others welcome the sensation of their back being forced to stay in better alignment, which can work to ease back pain while encouraging posture improvement.

Q: Does the futon need to be folded or rolled when not being used?

A: Yes, it is important to roll or fold the futon when not in use. Doing so prevents mites and mold from building up on the surface that touches the floor. Keeping the futon rolled or folded and in a proper storage area will protect it from dirt, dust, and other substances that can result in product deterioration or damage.

Q: How do you clean a Japanese futon?

A: You can use a vacuum to remove dirt and other particles on the surface of the futon. For more thorough cleaning, you can bring the futon outdoors and beat it just as you would a rug to get rid of deep-seated dust. Leave the futon under the sun for a while to get rid of or prevent molds, mites, and unwanted smells.


A Japanese futon provides a space-saving solution for an additional sleeping area in your home. It is designed to be placed directly on the floor, with this position working to maintain good back alignment to relieve pain while sleeping and even upon waking. Japanese futons offer excellent value for your money and can help you create sleeping areas for several people, with the total amount most likely equaling that of the price tag of only one conventional mattress.


Ancient History Encyclopedia – https://www.ancient.eu/article/1426/a-traditional-japanese-house/

Journalist’s Resource – https://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/housing/marie-kondo-konmari-tidying-up-research/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

Norwegian University of Science and Technology – https://www.ntnu.edu/documents/139799/1279149990/31+Article+Final_krithog_fors%C3%B8k_2017-12-07-22-08-50_TPD4505+-+Designteori+ -+Small+spaces+need+smart+solutions+-+Kristoffer+Th%C3%B8gersen.pdf/11a2f430-986b-4da8-9b44-14b204436e01

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation – https://journals.lww.com/ajpmr/Abstract/2005/03001/Management_of_Chronic_Low_Back_Pain.4.aspx

Journal of Hospital Infection – https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(13)00154-0/pdf

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