Futon (布団) is the Japanese traditional style of bedding.

Japanese-style futon laid out for sleeping in an inn

A complete futon set consists of a mattress (敷き布団, shikibuton, lit. "spreading futon") and a duvet (掛け布団, kakebuton, lit. "covering futon").[1] Both elements of a futon bedding set are pliable enough to be aired, folded and stored away in a large closet (押入れ, oshiire) during the day allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bedroom.[2]

Futons hung out to dry

Traditionally, futons are used on tatami, a type of mat used as a flooring material which also provides a softer base for the futon than most harder flooring types, such as wood or stone. Futons must be folded away daily and aired in the sun regularly to prevent mold from developing and also to keep the futon free of mites. All over Japan, futons can commonly be seen hanging over balconies airing in the sun.[3] A futon dryer is also available for those unable to hang out their futon.

Occidental futon, folded into a sofa

Western-style futons, which typically resemble low, wooden sofa beds, differ substantially from their Japanese counterparts.[1][4] They often have the dimensions of a western mattress, and are too thick to fold. They are often set up and stored on a slatted frame, which avoids having to move them to air regularly, especially in the dry indoor air of a centrally-heated house (Japanese homes were not traditionally centrally-heated[5]).

See also

  • Day bed (bed used for other purposes during the day)
  • Ken (unit on which houses are traditionally built)
  • Washitsu (the type of rooms in which futons are frequently used)
  • Zabuton (sitting futon, a smaller cushion)


  1. Evans, Toshie M. (1997). A dictionary of Japanese loanwords. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313287414. OCLC 528863578.
  2. Glaskin, Katie; Chenhall, Richard, eds. (2013). Sleep around the world : anthropological perspectives (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137315731. OCLC 854835429.
  3. Otowa, Rebecca (2010). At home in Japan : a foreign woman's journey of discovery (1st ed.). Tokyo: Tuttle Pub. ISBN 978-1462900008. OCLC 742512720.
  4. Cole, David John; Browning, Eve; Schroeder, Fred E. H. (2002). Encyclopedia of modern everyday inventions. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313313458. OCLC 49627783.
  5. Nute, Kevin (2004). Place, time, and being in Japanese architecture. London: Routledge. ISBN 0419240101. OCLC 53006895.
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