How Thick Are Japanese Futons?

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Sleeping on the floor seems fun and beneficial, but it’s only natural to wonder about the level of comfort it brings. Good thing Japanese futons exist to provide people a softer surface to sleep on without the inconvenience you get from a heavy foam mattress. Let’s see how comfortable this futon is by knowing its average thickness.

For starters, how thick are Japanese futons? Also known as “shikibuton,” “shiki buton,” or “shiki futon,” this type of traditional futon is approximately three inches thick only. That’s because it’s mainly designed for convenience. A three-inch futon is easier to roll up or fold for storage.

Before we proceed to other interesting and helpful facts about Japanese futons, learn more about their thin structure and what makes it better than the standard futons of today.

Japanese Futon

How Thick Are Japanese Futons?

Japanese futons can also be four-inch thick. Despite the single inch added, you will still be able to fold the futon in thirds and store it in a closet, cabinet, or shelf. You can’t do that with a modern six- or eight-inch futon.

A thicker Western-style futon is very similar to an actual mattress — huge and heavy. It is useful as an alternative mattress and can only be convenient if it remains fixed in one spot. You can still set it aside for guests, but the best thing you can do for storage is place it against the wall.

Japanese futons are clearly better for minimalist interior design. They guarantee portability, convenience, and more space. They are simply perfect for small rooms.

What Are Japanese Futons Made Of?

Surely you’re curious about the typical composition of Japanese futons. One of the best things about this traditional futon is its simplicity.

The answer is pretty straightforward. Japanese futons are basically made of pure cotton from their covers to their fillings. More environment-friendly ones even consist of organic cotton. What makes them durable and easy to clean is their duck weave and zipper.

Genuine Japanese futons always lack springs and artificial foam, which is obviously a good thing. That’s one of the factors setting them apart from the American-style options.

Can You Wash a Japanese Futon?

Good news — that’s a big YES! You may use your bathtub or washer (as long as your Japanese futon is machine washable).

How to Wash Japanese Futon in a Bathtub

  1. Fill your bathtub with warm water.
  2. Add detergent.
  3. Soak the futon in the soapy water.
  4. Clean your feet thoroughly before stepping on the futon.
  5. Stomp on all sides of the futon for a few minutes (be careful not to lose your balance).
  6. Drain the water.
  7. Squeeze the futon to remove excess water.

The next set of steps is for the washer method. But, we have important things to tell you first to prevent destroying your futon and washing machine.

Check if your Japanese futon can fit inside the washer. As a reference, the 11-pound or five-kilogram washing machine can only wash thin blankets.

However, even if your washer is big enough, you can’t wash the futon if it’s filled with feathers.

If you have a small washing machine, try using a washer in a laundromat. Make sure there are large dryers in the establishment. The last resort is to find a good laundry and dry cleaning service that accepts Japanese futons.

And, before we forget, only wash Japanese futons on sunny days. That’s crucial if you don’t have a large dryer in your home.

How to Wash Japanese Futon in a Washing Machine

  1. Make the futon smaller by rolling it up.
  2. Tie the rolled futon up or cover it with a net for a more even wash.
  3. Let the water flow into the washer.
  4. Add detergent.
  5. Wait for the detergent to dissolve before soaking the futon.
  6. Set the washer to a gentle cycle, low temperature, and short duration for wringing (should not exceed four minutes).

For better wringing after using the washer, you may use your bathtub. Rest assured there’s less water inside the futon whenever you step on it. Don’t forget to unroll it or remove the net first.

How to Dry a Japanese Futon

Luckily for you, there are different ways to choose from. Take note of the following tips:

  • Leave the futon outdoors to air-dry.
  • Leave the futon in a closed bathroom while the drying fan is on.
  • Roll up the futon before putting it in a dryer (make sure it fits).

How Long Do Japanese Futons Last?

We can’t say for sure the average lifespan of Japanese futons. However, with proper care and maintenance, it’s safe to say that they can last at least five years. Meanwhile, high-quality ones can remain intact for decades.

Remember these tips to ensure a longer lifespan for your Japanese futon:

  • Don’t leave the futon in the same spot for 24 hours by storing it when not in use.
  • Leave the futon under the sun twice in one year to maintain the cotton’s quality (don’t forget to flip it to expose both sides).
  • Give the futon an extra cover made of organic cotton.
  • Keep the futon fluffy every three months by hitting it from top to bottom with a big, hard racket (hang the futon first).
  • Place the futon on a platform bed or a tatami mat.

How Thick Are Tatami Mats?

Tatami Mats
Credit: Flickr

Since the traditional way to protect Japanese futons against mildew and mold is by placing it in a tatami mat, let’s focus on that interesting bit for a while. The tatami mat is simply a straw mat that can keep the futon dry. Moisture is the number one enemy of futons.

Many Japanese houses use tatami mat as flooring because of the cooler and cleaner environment it provides. This type of mat can span for several meters because of its simple material and construction.

When it comes to thickness, a tatami mat will always be 2-1/4 inches or 5.5 centimeters thick no matter how big or small it is.

Are Japanese Futons Comfortable to Sleep On?

Despite the cotton filling of Japanese futons, a lot of people just don’t find them comfortable. Some of them use two futons just to create a makeshift mattress. Meanwhile, others just can’t stand the firmness of futons.

That won’t stop the glory of Japanese futons, though. They offer some health benefits you can’t get from ordinary beds.

Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floor?

Japanese sleep on futons not just for the sake of convenience and minimalist home. They’re also known for their consciousness when it comes to health and wellness, which reflects on their preference to use futons.

It turns out that Japanese futons can be beneficial for your back. Their firmness can improve your spine’s alignment, reducing back pain. On that note, a better posture is also a possibility.

Another great thing about Japanese futons is their cheap prices in stores. They’re much more affordable than bed frames and mattresses. Japanese are generally careful spenders, so the never-ending popularity of futons makes sense.

Are you now convinced to switch to Japanese futons? We recommend these amazing options:

FULI Japanese Traditional Shiki Futon

FULI Japanese Traditional Shiki Futon (view on Amazon) isn’t just made of pure cotton fabric; it also contains pure polyester for the filling. In case it’s exposed to a bit of moisture from sweat or spills, it dries fast.

This futon is made by actual Japanese designers and craftsmen, so expect authentic experience with this product. It is stored in a compressed package, so it remains clean and portable before you use it.

D&D Futon Furniture Traditional Japanese Futon

If you don’t like white bedding, here’s a nice black option. It is a Japanese futon with some modern features to satisfy people who prefer softer beds.

D&D Futon Furniture Traditional Japanese Futon (view on Amazon) only contains 90% cotton, but it has some polyester and foam to enhance durability and comfort. You will also feel safe with this product because it uses flame retardant materials.

EMOOR Japanese Traditional Futon

Sometimes, simplicity is the key to a good night’s sleep. This “Classe” Japanese futon is made in Japan.

EMOOR Japanese Traditional Futon (view on Amazon) uses a polyester pad that’s firm yet comfortable enough because of the extra-soft filling. Its cotton cover is removable and easy to clean.

Luxton Home Japanese Shiki Futon

Because of its thin padding, Luxton Home Japanese Shiki Futon (view on Amazon) can also be a meditation or yoga mat. It can even be an alternative for sleeping bags. Just roll it up and bring it when you’re out camping or traveling.

If you have allergies or sensitive skin, this organic Japanese futon is perfect for you. It is hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It is totally safe for babies.

Conclusion – How Thick Are Japanese Futons?

Japanese futons aim for storage convenience to help you maintain a bigger space in your home. That’s why they’re only three to four inches thick. More importantly, that level of thickness results in a firmer bed for people who need long-term relief from back pain.



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