Futon Mattress

What Is a Shikibuton Mattress

Living in a tight space such as a studio apartment? Looking to use space in a new and innovative way? Try a shikibuton! The OG minimalist mattress. This traditional Japanese bed gives your home a nice Washitsu vibe and can help even the most disorganized person develop a morning routine. If you want to open up your bedroom’s floor space for activities, keep reading to learn about your new favorite piece of furniture.

Shikibuton Mattress
Shikibuton Mattress

Shikibuton vs Futon

Us Americans know the classic bachelor pad set up includes a futon covered in Doritos crumbs and mysterious crusty stains. But this couch-bed combo is really just a rip off of the Japanese shikibuton. 

In Japan, a futon refers to a bedroom set that includes a mattress (the shikibuton) and a duvet (kakebuton). 

The shikibuton itself, sometimes referred to as a shiki futon, is a 3″ thick rectangular cushion that can be stuffed with cotton, wool, latex, soy foam, or even cooling foam.

A shikibuton mattress is more adaptable than the futon we usually think of. Extend the cushion fully to use it as a shikibuton bed. Fold it in thirds to create a plush seat or ottoman, or stow it in a closet to free up the space completely. 

How to Set Up Your Shikibuton Bed

The shikibuton bed itself is convenient in tight spaces, but for those of us used to sleeping on a box spring mattress, the transition to a 3″ cushion on the floor might leave you walking around with back spasms and a grimace the next day.

Most people don’t use shikibutons by themselves. In fact, it’s common to add a mattress topper for extra support. 

The deluxe stack up for a comfortable shikibuton bed is:

  • Tatami Frame (a low wooden frame)
  • Tatami Mat (a traditional Japanese mat made of rush grass and rice straw)
  • Shikibuton
  • Mattress topper
  • Kakebuton
  • Pillows and other plush comforts

Things to Remember

Shikibutons are meant to lie on a flat surface. The tatami bed frame and mat combo makes your flat surface breathable so your shikibuton doesn’t develop mold or mildew underneath. 

You read that right. Since this type of bed is meant to be folded and put away daily, you’ll need to air out your shikibuton frequently to avoid these unwanted and harmful fungi if you don’t have a tatami frame.

Many people hang their shikibuton mattress over a balcony in the sun to provide airflow and kill potential mite infestations. But putting your bed away daily usually provides enough airflow.

The relative thinness of your shikibuton makes it incompatible with the average slatted bed frame. Unless you want to feel every slat. 

Prepare your body for a firmer sleeping surface and remember to lay your shikibuton the opposite way at least once or twice every month to ensure even wear. 

Check Out Our Bed Reviews

If you aren’t sold on the shikibuton or just want to check out some other options before committing a third of your life to a mattress you’re less than stoked about, check out our bed reviews here!

About author

Alex Cubias is a writer at Mattress Story. He has been in the bedding & mattress industry since 2010. He covers a wide variety of mattress topics including necessary bed information to very detail construction of mattresses. Alex is from southern California and fills his spare time hanging with his family, eating tacos and relaxing.
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