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What is the traditional bed in Japan?

The Traditional Bed in Japan: A Comprehensive Guide


Japan is a country known for its rich and unique culture, which is reflected in the way its people live, eat, dress, and even sleep. One of the most interesting aspects of Japanese culture is the traditional bed, which differs significantly from the Western-style bed that most people are used to. In this article, we will explore the traditional bed in Japan, its history, design, materials, and cultural significance.

The History of the Traditional Bed in Japan

The traditional bed in Japan is called a “futon,” which literally means “bedding” in Japanese. The futon has been used in Japan for centuries and has evolved over time to become the comfortable and convenient bedding solution it is today. Originally, futons were made of straw or grass and were placed directly on the ground. Later on, they were placed on tatami mats to provide more comfort and insulation.

Japanese Snack Box

The Design of the Traditional Bed in Japan

The design of the traditional bed in Japan is simple yet functional. It consists of a thin mattress, usually made of cotton or wool, and a quilt or blanket for warmth. The mattress is placed on top of a tatami mat, which serves as a cushioning layer between the mattress and the floor. The futon can be folded and stored away during the day to save space.

The Materials Used in the Traditional Bed in Japan

The materials used in the traditional bed in Japan are natural and eco-friendly. The mattress is typically made of cotton or wool, both of which are breathable and hypoallergenic. The blanket or quilt is made of cotton, silk, or wool, depending on the season. Tatami mats are made of woven rush grass and are durable and moisture-resistant.

The Benefits of Sleeping on a Traditional Bed in Japan

There are several benefits to sleeping on a traditional bed in Japan. First and foremost, it is comfortable and supportive, as it conforms to your body shape while providing enough firmness to support your spine. It is also eco-friendly and sustainable since it uses natural materials that are renewable and biodegradable. Finally, it promotes good sleep hygiene since it can be easily folded away during the day to create more space and allow air to circulate around your sleeping area.

The Cultural Significance of the Traditional Bed in Japan

The traditional bed in Japan has deep cultural significance and is associated with simplicity, harmony, and mindfulness. Sleeping on a futon encourages people to live a minimalist lifestyle by owning fewer possessions and appreciating what they have. It also promotes closeness and intimacy since couples often share one futon instead of sleeping separately.

The Different Types of Futons

There are several different types of futons available in Japan, each with its own unique features and benefits. The most common type is the “shiki futon,” which is a thin cotton mattress that can be rolled up and stored away during the day. Another type is the “kakebuton,” which is a quilt or comforter that provides warmth during colder months. Finally, there is the “zabuton,” which is a small cushion that can be used for sitting or kneeling on.

How to Use a Traditional Bed in Japan

Using a traditional bed in Japan requires some getting used to but can be easy once you get the hang of it. First, you need to lay out the tatami mat on a clean floor surface. Then place the futon on top of it with the quilt or blanket folded neatly at the foot end. When it’s time to sleep, simply unfold the futon and fluff up the pillow before laying down on it.

Tips for Maintaining Your Traditional Bed in Japan

To keep your traditional bed in Japan clean and hygienic, it’s important to follow some simple maintenance tips. First, make sure to air out your futon regularly by hanging it outside on sunny days. You should also flip it over every few months to even out wear and tear. Finally, use a vacuum cleaner or lint roller to remove any dust or debris from your tatami mat.

Where to Buy a Traditional Bed in Japan

If you’re interested in buying a traditional bed in Japan for yourself or as a souvenir, there are several places where you can find them. One option is to visit a local futon store or department store that sells bedding products. Another option is to shop online at websites like Amazon or Rakuten that offer a wide range of futons at affordable prices.


The traditional bed in Japan offers many benefits over Western-style beds such as comfort, sustainability, and cultural significance. Whether you’re living in Japan or simply looking for an alternative sleeping solution at home, consider trying out a futon for yourself.


Do traditional Japanese homes have beds?

In a conventional Japanese dwelling, chairs and beds are not used for sitting or sleeping. Instead, cushions and futon bedding are placed on the floor for these purposes. The design of the Japanese room has evolved gradually to accommodate this way of living and to reflect the local culture.

What are the parts of a traditional Japanese bed?

The traditional Japanese futon consists of three components: the shikibuton, or mattress, the kakebuton, or duvet, and the makura, or pillow. Both the mattress and duvet are made of cotton, which is an excellent insulator, allowing for coolness during the summer months and warmth during the winter. This design has been used for centuries and remains popular today.

What did ancient Japanese sleep on?

In Japan’s Nara period, which lasted from 710 to 794, only the wealthy nobility could afford to sleep on bed frames. The common peasants usually slept on mats made of straw or rice plants or simply on the ground. It was during this period that the first beds were imported to Japan from China.

What is the difference between a futon and a shikibuton?

The distinction between futons and shikibutons is not straightforward, as they come from different cultural perspectives. In Western culture, futons are often used as a combined bed and sofa, while in Japan shikibutons are intended to be used solely as a floor mattress and folded away each morning due to their thin, easily collapsible design.

What is a Japanese style bed called?

Futon is a type of bedding that originates from Japan and has a traditional style.

What is a Japanese bed called?

A shikibuton is a type of Japanese futon mattress that is meant to be placed directly on the floor. It’s convenient because it can be rolled up and stored away when not in use, creating more space in the room.

The Challenges of Sleeping on a Traditional Bed in Japan

While there are many benefits to sleeping on a traditional bed in Japan, there are also some challenges that come with it. One of the biggest challenges is getting used to sleeping on a firm surface, as futons do not have the same level of cushioning as a Western-style mattress. This can take some time to adjust to and may cause discomfort in some people. Additionally, futons can be difficult to move and store away, as they are heavy and bulky.

The Modernization of the Traditional Bed in Japan

In recent years, the traditional bed in Japan has undergone some modernization to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers. Some futon manufacturers have started using foam or latex as filling for their mattresses, which provides more cushioning and support. Others have added additional layers of padding or quilting to make the futon more comfortable. Additionally, some futons now come with removable covers that can be washed or replaced as needed.

The Future of the Traditional Bed in Japan

Despite the modernization of the traditional bed in Japan, futons remain an important part of Japanese culture and are likely to continue to be used for many years to come. However, as Japanese society becomes more globalized and Westernized, it’s possible that more people will switch to using Western-style beds instead. Nevertheless, for those who appreciate the simplicity, sustainability, and cultural significance of the futon, it will remain a beloved and practical bedding solution.

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