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A Japanese-style futon laid out for sleeping
A western-style futon couch

Futon (布団?) About this sound listen is a Japanese term generally referring to the traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts pliable enough to be folded and stored away during the day, allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bedroom. The bedding set referred to as futon in Japan fundamentally consists of a shikibuton (bottom mattress) and a kakebuton (thick quilted bedcover).[1] According to Japanese lore, the first futons were said to be crafted by samurai who couldn't master the art of sword play.

A futon is a flat mattress with a fabric exterior stuffed with cotton, wool, or synthetic batting that makes up a Japanese bed. Futons are sold in Japan at speciality stores called futonya as well as at department stores. They are often sold in sets that include the futon mattress (shikibuton), a comforter (kakebuton) or blanket (mōfu), a summer blanket resembling a large towel (taoruketto), and a pillow (makura) generally filled with beans, buckwheat chaff, or plastic beads.[citation needed] Futons are designed to be placed on tatami flooring, and are traditionally folded away and stored in a closet during the day to allow the tatami to breathe and to allow for flexibility in the use of the room. Futons must be aired in sunlight regularly, especially if not put away during the day. In addition, many Japanese beat their futons regularly using a "futon tataki", a special implement, traditionally made from bamboo, resembling a Western carpet beater.

Futon are available in single, semi-double, and double sizes.[2]

The Western futon is based on the Japanese original, with several major differences. It is almost always placed on a configurable wood or metal frame for dual use as a bed and a chair or couch. Typically, the frame folds in the middle, allowing the futon to be used as a couch, and flattens for use as a bed. It is usually filled with foam as well as batting, often in several layers, and is often much thicker and larger than Japanese futons, resembling a traditional mattress in size. Western-style futons are an alternative to a bed or other furniture, and are often sold in sets that include the mattress and frame. Futons normally feature a removable and replaceable cover, lending them more versatility.

In Japanese, a zabuton (za, sitting + futon) is a square, thin cushion for sitting on instead of chair when one sits at a small, 30 cm high table in a tatami room. However, they are becoming rarer as Japan becomes more westernized.


  1. ^ Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, entry for "bedding".
  2. ^ Japanese wikipedia article about futon.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also futon


German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de


Futon m. (genitive Futons, plural Futons)

  1. futon

Simple English

Futons are traditional Japanese bedding. A futon is a padded mattress, called a shikifuton, a quilt, called a kakefuton, and a pillow filled with beans, called a makura.[1] The futon was put on the floor at night for sleeping. They could be easily rolled up during the day when they were not needed.[2] The word futon has come to mean a lot more than this. Although many Japanese people sleep in a bed, they say "I sleep on futon"; it means to go to bed. Futon now means things that Japanese people sleep on, including beds.


Types of futon

Many companies make futons, and there are many kinds of futons. Futons help you sleep comfortably so people choose futons that suit them. Futons are made from chemical fibers like polyester, natural fibers like cotton, feather, down and wool. Japanese quilts usually contain feathers and Japanese mattress usually contain wool.

The Japanese quilt can keep in heat and moisture, depending on what it is made from. Usually, a futon that includes over 50% hemp or cotton is called a Menfuton. This is popular all over the world. Futons made from down are called quilt down. This retains heat, so this is a high-class futon. Futons made from feathers are called comforters. This is cheap and is common around the world. Futons made from chemical fibers are called chemical fiber futons. This is cheap so this is popular. Futons made from wool are called Yomo futon. These are warm.

In winter, people generally use Hadafuton like a blanket to keep warm. In summer, people generally use Towelket like a big towel or Seer quilt which are cooler.

Futons are generally used with a futon cover, because these make it easy to keep the futon clean. People generally use futons so they can sleep comfortably, stay warm and support their bodies while asleep. People usually sweat during sleep, so futons absorb sweat and collect moisture. Futons have to be hung out in sunlight to keep them dry, this is called futon-hoshi.[1] If this is not done, ticks and mold could grow on the futon and it will become dirty and insanitary. Futons need to be looked after properly.


In the 13th century most people slept on straw mats, but the nobles slept on tatami. These were not as soft as futons are now. It was said that they were hard and uncomfortable. For a very long time, people covered themselves with their clothes to keep warm. Most people slept nude. Rich people never did such things.

In the 17th century bedclothes were made. People made it by stuffing cloth with cotton and wool. These bedclothes are the original form of the futon.

In the 18th century futon production started because there was more domestic cotton available. At that time, futons were too expensive to buy for average people. They could cost 1,200,000 yen. Futons were important gifts and many men gave them to women in order to seduce them. Prostitutes were sometimes presented with futons by rich men. Prostitutes could be ranked by counting the futons; the higher ranks of prostitutes received more futons.

In those days, futon meant a mattress, not a quilt. Bedclothes were common. In the Kansai area, they used a square thing like a blanket, a fusuma. The quilt is said to have evolved long before it.

In the 19th century, most people were able to buy futons. The import of the raw cotton began, and many factories were built. Because of industrial development, making futons was easier and more efficient than before. This made the price become down and people were able to afford them.

Modern futons

The manufacturer "Nishikawa" is the most famous. This company is in Kyoto and Tokyo. They make everything for the futons, for example, pillows, sheets, and quilts. This brand has history of 440 years.

In old days, people thought any futon was good as long as they could sleep. But now people want better futons. Today, people like a futon which they can relax on and recover from fatigue. Futon makers have developed futons that can adjust to the human body. This is called Seiatsu Futon in Japan. There is some advantages to this new type of futon. Since ventilation is good, they are cool in summer and warm in winter. Since it can adjust to ideal posture when you sleep, it improves blood circulation while sleeping. And they are easy to look after. Also a futon of "low repulsion" is popular among Japanese people. This is said to fit the body of the user. Some users who are troubled by bedbugs on futon like "tick guard" futons.

Other websites


  1. Futon iyoho site. Ofutonnohito. Retrieved on 13 May 2009.
  2. Matsumoto, Yousuke(2008). Seikatsu Handbook. Daiichigakusyuusya, Tokyo. ISBN 78-4-8084-6400-0,p.64.
  3. Inside Japan. NISHIKAWA LIVING web. NISIKAWA LIVING Inc. 27 May 2009.
  4. Sagami web. Retrieved on 3 June 2009.
  5. Futonnorekishi. Retrieved on 12 May 2009.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Mishima, Shizuko. "Traditional Japanes Futon" (htm). Japan Travel. Retrieved August 25, 2009. 
  2. "Japanese furniture". Living in Japan. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 


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