Traditional Folding Shiki Futon Mattress
The first time I heard about the shikibuton was when I stayed over at my friend Yuri’s house. I was traveling through Japan, and she invited me over to stay at her place. When she showed me my room, I saw a rather flat mattress that was directly placed on the floor. I asked her if that was my bed, to which she replied: “Shikibuton! Shikibuton!” and I just mumbled a polite “Arigatou gozaimsu (Thank you very much.)” We went out that evening, so I forgot all about it, until later that night. Feeling that my head was slightly buzzing, I finally lay down on my shikibuton. To my surprise, it was unbelievably comofrtable and cozy! I don’t think that I have ever slept better than that particular night in Japan.
During that trip, I stayed at other people’s places as well, and many of them had set up a shikibuton (or, as some of them called them, shiki futon) for me. I noticed how energized I felt every night after I slept on a shikibuton, and decided to buy one for myself as well. After lots of research, I found the perfect shikibuton for me, and I hope that – after reading the following information – you will find yours as well!
What is a shikibuton?
A shikibuton, or shiki futon, is a Japanese mattress of about 3 to 4 inches thick that is often placed on a platform or directly on a traditional floor mat (called tatami). There are also thicker versions of 5 to 8 inches available, although the 6 inch version is one of the most common ones. Just like regular box spring mattresses, they come in different sizes. Common sizes that are available are Twin, Full, and Queen (keep in mind that the Japanese bed sizes might differ from American sizes).
Most shikibutons are made out of foam, and come with a cotton or polyester cover. They are usually stuffed with cotton or wool. One of the biggest advantages of a shikibuton is that it is extremely portable. There are many types of shiki butons available, such as:
Ultrasoft shikibutons: These shikibutons come with an ultrasoft removable cover.
Baby shikibutons: There are shiki butons available that are specifically designed for babies. Of course, they’re a lot smaller than regular shikibutons, and they can usually be folded in two.
Trifold shikibutons: Trifold shikibutons can be folded easily and stowed away when desired. You can store your shiki futon in a cupboard, or in your closet for example. Many Japenese people like trifold shiki futons because they can be kept out of sight. Since the Japanese often have micro-apartments, the shikibuton is the ideal bed for them. The trigold shikibuton is not just for the Japanese though – it is a popular item among people living in small apartments in New York and Los Angeles, too.
Sofa shikibutons: A Sofa shikibuton is specially designed to be converted into a sofa during the day. Make your room complete by adding a kotatsu table, which is a Japanese tabletop with a futon underneath. The futon can be placed on the lap, and is often heated.
Health Benefits of Shikibutons
Shikifutons can be the ultimate solution for people with back pain. Have you ever heard that sleeping on the floor diminished back problems? A shikibuton can have the same impact, and it is a lot more comfortable than a cold and hard floor. The reason why many people experience back pain when they sleep on a regular mattress, is because the mattress adjusts to their bodies. Sleeping on a shikibuton instead will align your head, neck, and spine. In other words: a shikibuton ensures that you maintain a good posture.
Besides the fact that shikibutons improve your sleeping position, they also provide a night of blissful sleep. Many people have already discovered that they sleep well on shikibutons. Some people say they sleep even better on a shikibuton than on a regular mattress! This might be because a shikifuton allows your body to completely relax at night (or during your nap).
Prices for shikibutons vary greatly, depending on the size, material, and the style you are looking for. Obviously, a queen size can be much more expensive than a twin size shiki futon. The cheapest one I could findd was on Amazon.com, for around 40 dollars (Price might be different now!) (Pinzon Hypoallergenic Overfilled Microplush Mattress Pad, Twin size). Queen sizes start from around 50 dollars on Amazon, depending on the type.
The brand also plays a role in the price. Common brands are J-Life, D&D Futon Furniture, EMOOR, and Milliard.
Where to Buy
Shikibutons are not that easy to find in regular stores. However, online there are tons of options available.
Amazon: Amazon is the biggest online source for shikibutons. Here you’ll also be able to find the popular J-Life and EMOOR brands that produce shikibutons. Another advantage of using Amazon is that you can find many reviews on shikibutons here, which makes the searching process a lot easier. Moreover, they often have items that are on sale, making it very likely that you’ll find your cheapest options here.
Tuft & Needle: Although you won’t be able to find a shikibuton at Tuft & Needle by simply searching for “shikbuton Tuft & Needle” online, they do offer mattresses that you can put on the floor. Tuft & Needle is a good source if you are looking for a high quality mattress with a classic design. Their products are also fair trade, so if you value honest, organic products, make sure to check out their website.
eBay: eBay offers a wide variety of shiki futons as well, and has a very informative page about the different brands you should consider. The brands they offer include J-Life, White Lotus, Rawganique, Soaring Heart, and Haiku Designs.
IKEA: Ikea might be worth a try both online and in store. Although they don’t sell it under the name “shikibuton,” they do sell foldable mattresses that can be placed upon a floor. Consider asking for a lightweight memory foam mattress.
Other (online) stores that possibly sell shikibutons (or similar products) are Target, Walmart, and Alibaba. However, for very specific searches, Amazon would be your best bet.
Do you live in Canada or in the UK? No problem! Amazon Canada and Amazon UK have an amazing collection that they ship right to your door. Amazon US also ships to many countries worldwide, so no matter where you live, you’ll be able to get the shikibuton of your dreams.
Cover: Most shikibutons come with a cover. However, always make sure whether the cover is included or not. If not, buy one separately, because the cover will protect your shikibuton. Covers are usually made of cotton, although you’ll probably be able to find different types of fabric as well. Amazon sells all sorts of colors and prints.
Fitted sheets: There are waterproof fitted sheets available for shikibutons. These sheets protect your futon from moisture and dust.
Comforter: EMOOR and J-Life sell comforters and comforter covers through Amazon.com. A comforter for a shikibuton is also called a kakebuton.
Platform / bed frame: Some people use a platform specifically designed for shikibutons to sleep on. If you prefer a platform, think about getting two shikibutons (so you can stack them on top of each other).
Floor mat: In Japanese homes, a shikibuton is often placed on a tatami, which is a soft floor mat made of straw. Sometimes, the tatami is covered with a duvet.
How to take care of your shikibuton
Just like a regular mattress, make sure that you turn your Japanese mattress over once a month. This has to be done to prevent that the shikibuton adjusts to the sleeping position of your body. If you always sleep in the same position, consider turning your shikibuton over once a week. Another reason why it is good to turn over your mattress is because it keeps it dry. The cotton fibers tend to absorb moisture, which can cause mold on your mattress. It would be even better if you can lay your shikibuton out in the sun once every half a year. Dust mites and mold won’t stand a chance if you take good care of your shikibuton!
Did you get a stain on your shikibuton? If the stain is on your cover, just wash the cover according to the instruction label. If the stain got on your futon, use some dishwater and soap to clean the area.
If you take good care of your shikibuton, it can last you many years. With a minimum amount of effort and time, you can prevent the mattress from molding and sagging. Set reminders for yourself and spend some time taking care of you shikibuton to enjoy it longer.
Want to keep your room in style? In that case, consider getting a kakebuton. As previously said, a kakebuton is a comforter that the Japanese use when they sleep on their shikibutons. Looking for a good pillow? The boyfriend pillow might be just what you need. Check out the boyfriend pillow website to find out more about this amazing must-have!
Do you like the idea of living a more minimalist type of lifestyle? A kotatsu table is a unique piece of furniture that served as a table and that can be stored easily. Just like the shikibuton and the boyfriend pillow, a kotatsu table gives you that warm and cozy feeling that you thought only Christmas could give you!
Get Your Own Shikibuton Now!
Do you want to feel completely zen when you wake up? Looking for a way to save a lot of space in your otherwise tiny bedroom? Or are you planning on camping, but haven’t figured out how to get a comfortable night of sleep? Get a shikibuton! Besides that it has a positive influence on your health, it is an extremely versatile item that keeps you warm and cozy. No more hassles with regular mattresses, and no more back pain. With the shiki buton you can sleep wherever you want, whenever you want!
Experience a shikibuton while in Japan
Are you going to Japan, and do you want to experience sleeping on a shiki futon? I recommend you to go to a traditional Japanese ryokan! A ryokan is a traditional style Japanese hotel, and they let you experience the more classical Japan! They have shiki futons placed on tatami mats, and they also have special pillows, which are filled with beads. (I was surprised how comfortable these pillows where when I used them for the first time.) Usually the hotel staff will fold up your futon during the day.
This will give you more space in your room during the day, and they will prepare the futons again for you when the evening begins. Sleep well!