Mattress Accessories & Bedding

Best Japanese Futon Mattress: 2020 Top Picks

These 'mattresses' are simplistic to say the least. If you're not someone who needs a lot of bells and whistles, read on to learn about the best Japanese Futon Mattresses.

By Jack Mitcham

A Japanese futon mattress, formally known as a shikibuton, is the traditional style of bedding in Japan. Western futons, which consist of a thin mattress and an adjustable frame, were adopted in the United States after World War II. Authentic Japanese style futon mattresses, however, only consist of a three to the four-inch cushion with no support structure and have been used in Japan for centuries. 

Shikibutons are often laid directly on the floor in Japan, as floors there are almost always made from soft panels with rice straw cores. Japanese futon mattresses are designed to be neatly folded and stored during the day. While sleeping on the floor may seem uncomfortable, it’s been argued that Japanese style futons keep joints in their proper position and are healthy for sleepers’ backs.

Whether you’re a minimalist, headed to Japan for a long-term stay, or need a lightweight, portable sleeping surface, keep reading to learn about the best Japanese futon mattresses available today. We also share a buyer’s guide that includes shopping considerations, types of Japanese futon mattresses, and tips for selecting the best Japanese futon mattress for your budget and lifestyle.

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Best Japanese Futon Mattress of 2020

EMOOR Japanese Traditional Futon Mattress

Editor’s Pick

Reason to Buy: The ‘sandwich’ construction of this mattress’s interior provides excellent back support, and the selection of colors and sizes means there’s something for every sleeper. 

The EMOOR mattress is made in Japan and sold at a reasonable price. It measures roughly 2.5 inches thick and is constructed from a firm polyester pad surrounded by soft filling that’s encased in a 100% cotton cover. EMOOR offers this mattress in ten colors and eight sizes, making it an excellent choice for Westerners who want the look and feel of a Japanese futon mattress with more size and style customization.

The mattress folds in three for easy storage and is lightweight, weighing just 11 pounds. It has a firm feel, and it’s three-layered “sandwich” interior structure (a firm polyester pad surrounded by two soft polyester quilts) will support your back without giving. 

FULI Japanese Traditional Shiki Futon

Most Authentic

Reason to Buy: For a Japanese futon mattress that most closely resembles those used for centuries in Japan, we recommend the FULI.

The FULI Japanese Traditional Shiki Futon is made in Japan by dedicated craftsmen, making it our choice for Most Authentic. The exterior fabric is 100% hygroscopic cotton and it’s stuffed with 100% polyester batting. It measures just 1.5 to 1.75 inches thick, which is standard for authentic Japanese mattresses.

The FULI mattress is available in Twin, Twin XL, Full, and Full XL sizes, and the Twin XL and Full sizes have a Super Grade option that includes more fill. Regardless of the size of the grade, you select, the FULI Japanese mattress will have a firm feel. Dry cleaning is recommended.

D&D Futon Furniture Traditional Japanese Floor Mattress

Best Western Mattress

Reason to Buy: Made in the USA, this rolling floor mattress is a Western take on the traditional with larger dimensions and the option to use it with other bedding accessories or as a meditation mat.

The D&D Futon Furniture Traditional Japanese Floor Mattress is an unashamedly Western take on traditional Japanese floor mattresses. It maintains the core features of a Japanese futon mattress, including a rollable structure, thin dimensions (three inches thick), and cotton in its construction. However, buyers note that they enjoy its versatility, as many use it atop a Western futon frame, with duvets and mattress toppers, or for their yoga practice.

The D&D Futon mattress measures three inches thick by 60 inches wide by 80 inches long, or roughly the size of a Queen mattress. It’s filled with 90% cotton, 5% polyester fiber, and 5% resilient foam. The futon cover is flame retardant and has two attached straps to keep the mattress rolled when it’s in storage. The D&D has an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars from nearly 400 reviewers on Amazon and comes with the manufacturer’s warranty upon request.

J-Life Japanese Futon

Best All-Natural

Reason to Buy: This shikibuton is 100% unbleached cotton, resulting in a pure and simple product that’s reminiscent of authentic models made in Japan.

J-Life International went to great lengths to ensure their Japanese futon mattress mirrors the construction of those made in Japan by deconstructing Japanese shikibutons and talking to master craftsmen in Japan. The result is a Japanese futon mattress made from a 100% unbleached cotton duck cover that’s filled with 100% cotton.

The futon features knife edges to help it lay flat and fold easily in thirds for storage. The J-Life shikibuton is available in two thicknesses that, while thin, feel firm to the touch. J-Life sized their futons to fit American bed frames but are intended to be used on a solid surface such as a platform bed, tatami, or the floor. The J-Life Japanese Futon is made in Cot, Twin, Twin XL, and Full sizes. A cover must be purchased separately.

Colorful Mart Futon

Best Color Selection

Reason to Buy: Minimalist sleepers who want a statement piece will appreciate the fun colors the Colorful Mart Japanese futon is offered in, which include blue, gray, green, red, and purple.

This mattress features a soft microfiber filling that’s encased in 100% polyester in a variety of colors. The company recommends using a mat under this futon mattress for cleanliness and moisture control, but it is machine-washable.

The Colorful Mart futon comes in five bright colors and is available in Twin, Full, Queen, and King sizes. The sizes vary in length and width but are all roughly three inches thick, and all will require two to three days to return to normal thickness after unpacking. 


Japanese Futon Mattress Buying Guide

If you’ve never considered Japanese bedding, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of these mattresses prior to purchase. In the buyer’s guide below, we provide details about the variations in Japanese futon mattresses on the market and share buying considerations to remember when selecting the best shikibuton for you.

Types

As mentioned, a Japanese futon mattress is a slim, foldable, and rectangular cushion that’s filled with just enough cotton batting to provide comfortable support. They’re traditionally used in concert with a tatami mat to keep the futon mattress off the floor. Here are the types of Japanese futon mattresses available today:

  • Traditional shikibuton—A traditional Japanese futon mattress is almost always made exclusively with cotton. The cover is usually a zippered cotton cover made of woven cotton or cotton duck weave. Traditional shikibutons are always filled with cotton batting. In Japan, these mattresses are always paired with a tatami mat.
  • Foam futon—Japanese futon mattresses are always filled with cotton. You may see foam-filled futon cushion advertised as Japanese futon mattresses, but it’s important to know that this construction is not considered to be a true Japanese futon mattress, even though they may offer excellent comfort and support. Foam ‘Japanese futon mattresses’ are also not as easy to store as their cotton-filled counterparts.

Considerations

Japanese futons are perhaps the simplest sleep systems available, consisting of only a cotton-filled mattress and, in most cases, a thin mat. Futons have gained popularity worldwide over the last century, but the Japanese hold true to the minimalistic, floor-based construction of the original futon. Whether you plan to use a Japanese futon mattress as your primary sleeping surface or as an alternative for travel, these are the buying considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Foldable or rollable—Depending on the thickness of the mattress and its construction, your Japanese futon mattress will be rollable or foldable for storage. Some models are built with attached ties to help the mattress stay in place when rolled. Keep the size of the space you plan to store your mattress during the day in mind when selecting its storage style. 
  • Care—Beyond following the care directions for storage (rolling or folding in thirds immediately after use), consider the cleaning instructions for the mattress you select. Keeping the floor on which the mattress rests will help, but make sure the mattress is washable or can be easily dry cleaned. 
  • Tatami mat—A tatami mat is a woven grass or reed mat that provides an airy, firm surface for the Japanese futon mattress. These are how Japanese futon mattresses are traditionally used and, in some Japanese homes, are also used as a floor covering or rug during the day. 
  • Shikibuton frame—Since having floor space is the main attraction of futon-style sleeping, many shoppers don’t look into bed frames. However, if you prefer sleeping elevated from the ground, consider a slatted bed frame with slats placed fairly close together, as the thin construction of Japanese futon mattresses will otherwise cause you to feel the slats through the mattress.
  • One layer or two—Less of a buying consideration and more of personal preference, some individuals find that they sleep better when stacking one Japanese futon mattress on top of another. 

How to Pick the Best Japanese Futon Mattress for You

If you’ve been looking for a bedding option to complement your minimalistic style, need to free up space, or want to try an alternative sleeping method, a Japanese futon mattress might be worth a try. Depending on the shikibuton you choose, it can help prevent overheating at night and aid in pressure point relief, and most models are allergen-free, eco-friendly, and inexpensive. The downside of Japanese futon mattresses is that they can be difficult to find, so we recommend using our list of the best Japanese futon mattresses above as you begin your search.


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