5 Best Japanese Futon Mattresses: Comprehensive Review and Buying Guide

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 19 minLast updated April 5, 2021

The Japanese are a nation of long-living people.

And the secret to this — aside from a lot of seafood in their diet — is healthy sleep.

One of the essential parts of traditional Japanese culture is shikibuton, a rollable floor mattress that is used for daily sleeping. And given its thin design, it might be hard to imagine that it can offer any comfort.

But it can, indeed. And I invite you to check out the five best Japanese futon mattresses that I have tested and reviewed below to help you choose the one that will bring healthy sleep to your life!

A Quick Preview

FULI Japanese Futon
Best Overall

FULI Japanese Futon
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Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress
Second Best Choice

Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress
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Natural Wool & Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress
Best for Thermoregulation

Natural Wool & Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress
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D&D Futon Furniture
Best Affordable Pick

D&D Futon Furniture
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EMOOR Japanese Futon
Best for Balanced Support

EMOOR Japanese Futon
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Our Reviews of 5 Best Japanese Futons

Best Overall – FULI Japanese Futon

FULI Japanese Futon

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Highlights

  • three-layer construction for extra comfort;
  • quality made and durable;
  • multiple sizes available to accommodate different types of users.

The FULI has proudly claimed its place in this review of the top-rated Japanese futon mattresses because it features the combo of luxurious design, decent durability, and great supportive properties — basically, all the things you can ask for in a futon!

The mattress features three layers and measures around 2.5 inches thick when fully expanded. So, if you’re an average or petite sleeper, this mattress can totally cradle you and ensure the right spine support.

The mattress surface cover is made of durable materials and has a breathable weave, which makes it resistant to dust mites and mold. This is a great feature for those who don’t have a balcony or live in humid climates and cannot regularly air out their mattresses.

One more good thing about the FULI is the cotton cover. Natural cotton has good breathability and is able to absorb moisture, so you will stay cool and dry throughout the night.

All in all, The FULI is a real gem. This futon is great for both regular sleeping and occasional use (for your guests, for example). It is comfortable and offers enough support and cushioning to make you sleep well all through the night. Plus, it looks (and feels) luxurious. With the FULI, you might even forget that you are sleeping on the floor.

Second Best ChoiceOrganic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress

Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress

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Highlights

  • medium feel to accommodate a wider range of sleepers;
  • organic cotton filling for superb breathability;
  • two thickness options to offer more comfort variations.

The second top option among the best Japanese futon mattresses is this organic model that uses cotton for both filling and the outer shell. The Shikibuton feels overstuffed at first, but it’s done to achieve a medium feel that would deliver both comfort and proper support. I chose the 5-inch model for that extra space between me and the floor. However, given its generous filling, I think the 3-inch model would be very supportive too. 

Now, let’s not forget about cotton’s thermoregulating properties. This material is super breathable, so it shouldn’t make you sleep hot (even if you get a thicker option). At the same time, you don’t have to worry about sleeping close to the floor. The Shikibuton mattress is quite resilient, so your body will be elevated enough to not get cold.

Best for Thermoregulation — Natural Wool & Organic Cotton Shiki Futon MattressNatural Wool & Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress

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Highlights

  • comes in non-standard sizes as well (including extra-long) to accommodate more types of sleepers;
  • organic cotton cover for improved breathability;
  • soft feel to offer gentle cradling, great for side sleepers.

Looking for a good Japanese futon mattress that would feel comfortable any time of the year? Then you should certainly consider the Shiki wool mattress. This model uses natural wool that can help you achieve a temperature-neutral sleeping environment regardless of the weather outside. You see, wool is naturally breathable and does an excellent job at wicking the extra moisture away. That’s why this mattress should sleep neutral when it’s hot outside. At the same time, when the temperature in the room is lower, wool can lock in your body heat and keep you warm all through the night.

Another cool thing that makes this model stand out from the competitors is the number of options it offers. While most Japanese futon mattresses come in standard sizes and offer only one thickness (especially cheaper models, like the D&D futon, for example), the Shiki wool mattress goes beyond that. You can pick between two thickness options and different size variations, including Eastern King and Extra-Long Full Double.

Best Affordable Pick  – D&D Futon Furniture

D and D Futon Furniture

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Highlights

  • sandwich construction with a firm core;
  • cotton batting for better pressure relief;
  • durable and breathable polyester cover.

When testing and reviewing the best Japanese futon mattresses, I came across this low-cost shikibuton by D&D Futon Furniture. This model packs the combo of resilient foam, cozy cotton batting, and a durable polyester cover. And its price is beyond tempting! So, what are we waiting for?

The first thing that caught my eye was the sandwich-like design. A thin layer of firm foam is stuffed between soft cotton, and this combination results in a medium feel with some hug. The futon gently cradles your body and helps you sleep soundly.

The cotton batting also adjusts to your body temperature, while the breathable polyester cover helps you stay dry. So, if you live in a hot climate or struggle with hot flashes, you might discover all the wonders of cool sleep with this shikibuton.

Along with that, if you’re into yoga or meditation, you can easily use this futon as your mat. It’s pretty durable and can withstand active use during yoga sessions while ensuring your comfort.

I really enjoyed sleeping on this Japanese futon. It’s soft, comfortable, and seems pretty durable for a budget-friendly item.

Best for Balanced SupportEMOOR Japanese Futon

EMOOR Japanese Futon

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Highlights

  • designed by Japanese craftsmen;
  • has a natural cotton cover;
  • contains a firm polyester pad for better support.

I will start my review of the best Japanese futon mattresses with this classic model by EMOOR. This is one of the most authentic options on the market because it’s made in Japan. Plus, it has a well-made design and feels very comfortable, so you will be able to upgrade your sleeping experience easily!

For unbeatable support, this shikibuton features a sandwich-like design with a firm polyester pad being surrounded by soft padding. Thanks to this combo, the mattress can conform to your body shape and support the correct spine alignment.

Also, the fluffy fibers and a natural cotton cover prevent the EMOOR from sleeping hot. The cotton helps wick away body moisture and feels soft and pleasant to the touch, whereas fibers adjust to your body temperature and maintain the optimal microclimate while you sleep.

The firm polyester pad, along with ensuring proper support, also contributes to anti-sagging properties and durability. So, the EMOOR shikibuton will easily serve you for years to come, assuming that you’ll care for it properly.

The EMOOR futon doesn’t offer you any extras, except being manufactured in Japan, but has all the basic features — such as well-made construction, decent cradling, and cool sleep. And all this goodness comes with more than an appealing price tag!

Japanese Traditions in Sleep at a Glance

So, a futon is a traditional type of bedding that had been used in Japan for decades (1). Most Japanese families lived in small houses — it usually had just one room for all the family members — so in order to make the most of the tiny space, they used mattresses that could be easily folded away during the day.

The term ‘traditional floor futon’ typically refers to one item, but actually, a traditional Japanese bed included a set of elements:

  • shikibuton, or the ‘spreading futon’ — a mattress that you spread on the floor to sleep on.
  • kakebuton, or the ‘covering futon’ — a duvet cover that fits the size of the futon.
  • makura — a small pillow that is put on the futon.

The shikibuton is generally about 3 inches thick; however, some models may reach 4 inches. Hand-crafted models mostly use natural cotton as the filling, because of its density and great insulating properties. Mass-produced futons may feature a memory foam core layer for better support.

The cover can be made of cotton or bamboo fabric: both these materials wick away moisture and promote airflow inside the futon.

Now, you may want to pair your futon with a tatami mat made of bamboo straws. This elevates the futon from the bare ground and improves heat and moisture removal. Also, the tatami feels softer than the floor and could make your futon more comfortable.

Note that Japanese futons are used for sleeping only because they’re typically too soft and pliable to create a comfortable spot for leisure activities. 

Also, since futons lie on the floor and are more exposed to humidity, they need to be aired out daily to prevent mold development and funky odors (2).

How to Choose a Good Japanese Futon?

Every decision should be made with thorough attention to detail.

And when it comes to sleep, you need to be even more attentive. After all, we spend the third of our life sleeping, and our body needs proper rest.

So, let’s see what you should pay attention to when choosing a traditional Japanese floor mattress to upgrade your sleeping experience.

Check the Size 

Most modern shikibutons are made in standard mattress sizes, such as Twin, Full, Queen, or King. So, make your choice based on your needs. An average-weight couple may feel comfortable even on a Full-size mattress, while larger sleepers might need Queen or even King. At the same time, a single sleeper will benefit from a lightweight Twin-size model.

A Twin-size shikibuton can easily turn into a comfortable sleeping mat for camping! It won’t take much space when folded and can help you improve your sleep.

Consider the Materials of Japanese futon mattresses 

Fun fact: Japanese futons were originally stuffed with horsehair, reeds, or rice straw (3). Today, however, most of them use folded or rolled cotton layers or synthetic fibers as the filling.

Cotton is more breathable and initially hypoallergenic, while synthetic fibers have better durability and don’t form lumps over time. Along with that, some futons feature a thin layer of foam for better support and more pronounced cradling. 

The cover is important too. Some manufacturers might use various chemicals to enhance the antimicrobial properties of their futons, so it’s always a good idea to check this before purchase. Especially if you have allergies.

Some Japanese-style futons come with a protective cover that won’t allow dust and debris to build up inside. This cover is often removable, so you can take it away and wash it, which makes the maintenance easier.

Think About the Maintenance

The dust and moisture can make even the best Japanese futon wear out quickly.

The best way to prevent this is to air out your futon regularly and expose it to direct sunlight. But if you cannot do that for some reason, here are the alternative ways:

  • Opt for heavy-duty materials. Cotton or synthetic fabrics with a tight weave are able to let the air in while keeping the dust out.
  • Purchase a cover or a protector. An encasement will protect the futon from accidental spills and stains or bed bugs, which is especially helpful if you live in an apartment.

Also, you may be able to just wash your futon (it’s a good idea to use a laundromat for this purpose, as a standard household washer may be too small for that).

Note though, that not all shikibutons are washable or tumble dryer-friendly. Some of them might allow only dry cleaning. So, be sure to check the manufacturer care instructions before you do something with them.

Outline the Price

Even though futons are a relatively affordable type of mattress, you still need to understand how much you may have to spend on it. A model with basic features may cost you about $100, but some more luxurious and thicker options could cost as much as $300 or even more.

Wrapping Up

Japanese futons are popular for a reason. They’re affordable, versatile and can support your spine during sleep no worse than a regular bed. All the models I’ve presented above can make a great pick if you consider purchasing this bedding item.

But if I had to recommend only one, I would choose the FULI Japanese futon. It made me sleep like a baby, offering a generous amount of cushioning while keeping my back supported. This futon is well-made and promises durability, which many users will appreciate. Additionally, it looks sleek and luxurious, and would fit into any interior.

What about you? What things are you looking for in a perfect futon mattress? Share your feedback below, I’d love to hear from you!

References

  1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Futon. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futon 
  2. Chris Telden (2019, May 16). Shikibuton Buyer’s Guide: The Traditional Japanese Futon Mattress. Retrieved from https://dengarden.com/interior-design/Shikibuton-Japanese-Traditional-Futon
  3. Sue McCarty (n.d.). Futon Facts. Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/futon-81684.html

Our research

26

Mattresses Considered

98

Hours of Research

3

Sleep Experts Consulted

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