Futon - Do Japanese people sleep on the floor?

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Japan likes it simple, and one of those things is sleeping on the floor in a cozy futon. They are roll-up mattresses made to be placed on tatami-type floors . In this article, we are going to see the benefits of sleeping on a Japanese mattress.

Is it uncomfortable? Why not a bed? This is the question that many ask when they see Japanese sleeping on a mat on the floor. Let's also see why the Japanese prefer the futon to a traditional bed.

What is a futon?

Futons [布団] are thin, only about 5 cm high, and have cotton, wool or synthetic material inside. Sets are sold in Japan that include the mattress ( shikibuton ), comforter ( kakebuton ) and pillow ( makura ). These pads are filled with green beans, black wheat or plastic parts.

A futon is a type of padding or blanket flexible enough to be folded and stored during the day and used at night, in order to save space. It is formed by a shikibuton (bottom) and a kakebuton (thick padding).

Futon - do the Japanese sleep on the floor?

It can be a big culture shock for westerners, they are quite thin, and even harder than a mattress, but this is seen as a benefit. Locals will tell you that a soft bed makes your body soft. They are designed to do the body and mind good. You won't catch a Japanese monk sleeping on a soft bed.

You can find these Japanese mats in ryokan inns , minshuku and some hostels. The experience of most foreign travelers who have enjoyed the futon has reported an excellent night's sleep.

origin of futon

The origin of the futon is uncertain, as since the 13th century people slept on straw mats. Nobles of the time slept on tatami, but none of them were as comfortable as they are today. Most did not use a blanket, slept naked and covered themselves with their clothes.

Futon - do the Japanese sleep on the floor?

Bed linen appeared in the 17th century, they were stuffed with cotton and wool. Basically it was these bedding that gave rise to the futon. In the 18th century futons were still expensive due to the price of cotton. Some cost as much as 1,200,000 yen.

Futon [布団] can be literally translated as group [団] of cloths [布]. The futon set makes up all the pieces of the bed and not just the mat or your blanket. Futon could also be the name of that round cushion they use for zen meditation.

One of the oldest and most popular companies for manufacturing futons is called Nishikawa and is over 440 years old.

How to Use a Futon?

The futon should be exposed to the sun to prevent it from becoming stale. That's why it's common to find buildings full of extended futons.

Futon - do the Japanese sleep on the floor?

Many people use to beat the futon with a special bamboo stick called a tataki futon to shake off the dust. When wet, the Japanese use the futonkansōki (dryer), which forces hot air into the mattress.

Futons should be folded and put away in the morning. This prevents him from modeling and also frees up space for use during the day. If you're at a ryokan you don't have to worry that someone will bend it for you. Some guests often double out of habit.

If you're a guest at someone's house, it's considered good manners to fold your own futon in the morning. Japanese homes have special cabinets to store these mattresses. However, as a guest it is best to fold it up and leave it in a corner of the room out of the way.

Futon - do the Japanese sleep on the floor?

Futon was made to be used on Tatami , a special type of flooring made from rice straw. If the room is without tatami, it is common to find a western bed.

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The benefits of sleeping on the futon

One of the main benefits of using the futon is its portability which saves a huge amount of space. You can simply roll up the entire mattress and have a gigantic free space in your room.

Mats are also usually cheaper than western beds, it's a shame that in Brazil it's the opposite and a futon can cost much more than a bed. We are talking about real futons and not mattresses that we find in Brazil.

Tatami

In addition to saving space and money, using a futon is much more hygienic than a western bed. It's easier to sanitize, carry, move and use. There are quality futons that are much more comfortable than a western bed.

The Japanese also tend to simply join the tatami mats of singles together to form a giant comfortable bed that can be bigger than a King bed. Nights can be warmer when we use a tatami.

The futon also helps in your health , it forces people to sleep in a correct position, helps in correcting the spine, joints, head, back and shoulders. It can help lessen your pain and stress.

Is that you? What is your experience? Feel like trying it out? I personally find it quite comfortable.

Where to buy a futon?

Unfortunately futons in the West are confused with simple pillows, or sometimes they are a little different in Japan. The best thing is to import these Japanese mattresses from a website. 

To buy a futon, you can consider the following options:

  1. Furniture stores: Check furniture stores that offer a variety of bedding and mattress options, including futons. Some stores may have a specific section for Japanese furniture or traditional futons.
  2. Home goods stores: Larger home improvement stores such as IKEA may have futons available in their mattresses or bedroom furniture section.
  3. Online shopping: There are several online stores that sell futons, offering a wide variety of styles and sizes. Some examples of online stores include Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart, and Overstock.
  4. Stores specializing in Japanese products: If you are looking for a traditional Japanese futon, it may be interesting to look for stores that specialize in Japanese products or oriental furniture stores.

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