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What kind of pillows do Japanese use?


Japanese culture has always been intriguing, including their bedding preferences. One of the things that have piqued the interest of many is their use of pillows. Unlike the western-style pillows, Japanese pillows are unique and have a long history. In this article, we will dive into the details of what kind of pillows the Japanese use and why they prefer them over other types.

History of Japanese Pillows

Japanese pillows have been in use for centuries and were initially made from wood or porcelain. Later on, they started using buckwheat hulls or beans as a filling material. The earliest form of pillow was called “makura” and was used by the aristocrats during the Heian period. They were small and made from silk, which was embroidered with gold thread.

Japanese Snack Box

The Types of Japanese Pillows

The most common type of Japanese pillow is the “Buckwheat Hull Pillow.” It has been in use for over 600 years and is still popular today. Another type is the “Sobakawa Pillow,” which is made from buckwheat hulls and has a unique shape to support the neck and shoulders. There is also the “Shiatsu Pillow,” which is used for acupressure massage.

Why do Japanese Use Buckwheat Hull Pillows?

Buckwheat hull pillows are popular in Japan because they conform to the shape of your head and neck, providing excellent support while sleeping. They also allow air to circulate, keeping you cool during hot weather. Furthermore, buckwheat hulls are a natural and sustainable material that is environmentally friendly.

Benefits of Using Buckwheat Hull Pillows

Using a buckwheat hull pillow has several advantages over traditional western-style pillows. They adjust to your head’s shape, reducing pressure on your neck and shoulders. This reduces soreness and stiffness when waking up in the morning. Additionally, they are hypoallergenic, making them ideal for people with allergies or asthma.

How to Care for Buckwheat Hull Pillows

To maintain your buckwheat hull pillow’s quality, it’s essential to keep it clean. You can remove the buckwheat hulls from the outer cover and wash it separately in cold water. This ensures that any bacteria or dirt accumulated in the pillow gets eliminated. After washing, let it dry naturally under direct sunlight.

Other Materials Used in Japanese Pillows

Apart from buckwheat hulls, other materials used in Japanese pillows include organic cotton, silk, kapok fiber, and foam. These materials have unique properties that make them suitable for different sleeping positions and preferences.

The Benefits of Organic Cotton Pillows

Organic cotton pillows are perfect for people who prefer a softer feel than buckwheat hull pillows. They are hypoallergenic and come in various sizes depending on your preference.

The Benefits of Silk Pillows

Silk pillows are ideal for people with sensitive skin because they are smooth and gentle on the skin. They help reduce wrinkles by keeping your skin hydrated throughout the night.

The Benefits of Kapok Fiber Pillows

Kapok fiber pillows are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional synthetic materials like polyester. They are soft but firm enough to provide support to your neck and head.

The Benefits of Foam Pillows

Foam pillows are ideal for people who prefer a firmer feel than traditional pillows. They conform to your head’s shape and provide excellent support throughout the night.


In conclusion, Japanese pillows have a long history, with various types made from different materials that cater to different sleeping preferences. Buckwheat hull pillows remain popular due to their unique properties that provide excellent support while being sustainable and environmentally friendly. Other materials like organic cotton, silk, kapok fiber, and foam provide alternatives that cater to different needs as well. Regardless of your preference, getting a good pillow is crucial for getting quality sleep every night.

What is a Japanese pillow called?

A dakimakura (抱き枕; from daki 抱き “embrace” and makura 枕 “pillow”) is a type of large pillow from Japan. The word is often translated to English as body pillow or waifu pillow. In Japan, dakimakura are similar to Western orthopedic body pillows, and are commonly used by Japanese youth as “comfort objects”.

Why do Japanese use hard pillows?

Sobakawa pillows from Japan provide the necessary support for your muscles to have a peaceful night of sleep. The buckwheat hulls in the pillow mold to your neck and head, ensuring proper sleeping posture.

Why do Japanese use buckwheat pillows?

It is clear that this unique pillow has been a popular choice in Japan for many years. Its unique design allows it to mold to the shape of your head and neck, which is achieved with the help of small hulls that can move freely inside the pillowcase. This pillow is known to alleviate neck pain and improve spinal alignment.

Why do Japanese use wooden pillows?

This foldable wooden headrest, also called a ‘ki-makura’ or ‘wooden pillow’, originates from Japan. It serves as an option to traditional pillows, keeping the user’s head cooler in hot weather and preserving their hairstyle during sleep.

What is tatami pillow?

The Tatami Pillow is designed to mold to the shape of your neck and shoulders over time, providing firm support and improving your sleeping posture. With proper neck support, you can experience relief from any discomfort and achieve a restful night’s sleep.

What is the traditional Japanese pillow size?

The common size for a Japanese-style buckwheat pillow is 14 by 20 inches, which is smaller than what is typical in America. Nonetheless, buckwheat pillows are also available in standard queen sizes.

It’s worth noting that Japanese pillows are not just functional but also have cultural significance. In Japanese culture, pillows hold a special place, and their use is deeply rooted in ancient customs and beliefs. For instance, it is believed that the way you position your pillow can affect your fortune and luck. This belief has led to the development of various styles and shapes of pillows, from the traditional rectangular shape to the cylindrical “makura” pillow.

Another interesting aspect of Japanese pillows is their role in promoting relaxation and wellness. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative therapies that focus on promoting mental and physical well-being. Japanese pillows, particularly the shiatsu pillow, have gained popularity as a tool for acupressure massage, which is believed to relieve tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.

Moreover, Japanese pillows are not limited to sleeping; they can also be used for other purposes such as meditation or as a prop for yoga poses. The buckwheat hull pillow is particularly useful in these situations as it conforms to your body’s shape, providing support and comfort during extended periods of sitting or lying down.

In conclusion, Japanese pillows offer a unique and practical alternative to traditional western-style pillows. They provide excellent support while being environmentally friendly and sustainable. With their rich history and cultural significance, they have become an essential part of Japanese daily life and offer a glimpse into the country’s fascinating culture and traditions. Whether you’re looking for better sleep or relaxation, a Japanese pillow may be just what you need to improve your overall well-being.

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