The Japanese Futon Buying Guide

Ever since it made its debut in the United States, the Japanese futon has been ‘Americanized’. So much so, that the very term ‘futon’ is now associated with the sofa beds that can be folded and are mainly found in college dorms.

However, the traditional Japanese futon is just a thin mattress of cotton. It does take some getting used to, especially if you are using it directly on the floor. But you can trust me on this, that if I can get used to sleeping on one, anybody can.

It also has a plethora of benefits that go beyond the easy storage. Here are some of them.

  • It is healthier for the back.
  • It allows you to create multipurpose rooms
  • It is perfect for guests
  • It is perfect for children
  • It is a traditional way of sleeping that was followed by a lot of ancient civilizations including Indians
  • It is low on maintenance

But owing to the popularity of these futon mattresses, the market is flooded with cheap quality products that are imported from China. Here’s a small buying guide that can help you with your purchase, especially if this is the first time you are shopping for Japanese futons.

  • How many people will sleep on it: This is the first thing that you need to decide on. Futons are available in a range of sizes. But owing to the portable nature of these mattresses, most people do not opt for anything beyond a queen sized one.
  • The Filling: What type of filling do you prefer in the mattress? Traditional Japanese futons are 100% cotton. But completely cotton filled mattresses are not easy to maintain and they tend to form uneven lumps when folded. So, most of the futons available these days have a blend of cotton and polyester. Some even add a layer of foam. The blended ones are usually more comfortable as opposed to cotton ones.
  • A single mattress vs. a set: Many people prefer a set that contains a mattress which is called a Shikibuton, a comforter which is called a Kakebuton and matching pillows. This avoids the need to buy each one separately and is also cost effective.
  • The thickness: Most manufacturers recommend that you use these mattresses with some kind of under mattress. However, if you are like me and you intend to use these directly to sleep on the floor, then you’d want to be aware of the thickness. Traditional futons were between 2 to 4 inches in thickness.
Emoor 4-Pieces Japanese Futon Set4/5$$
Emoor 6-Pieces Japanese Futon Set5/5$$
EMOOR Japanese Futon Set "Classe"4.5/5$$$
D&D Traditional Japanese Floor Futon4.5/5$


#1 – Emoor 4-Pieces Japanese Futon Set

Emoor is one of the brands that you will frequently come across in the market while shopping for Japanese futons. They have a range of futon sets that comprise of a Shikibuton, a Kakebuton and pillows.

This 4-piece set is one of their most popular offerings.

This set consists of a twin sized futon mattress that comes with a matching comforter and pillows. When not in use, it tucks away into a storage pouch with a zipper that can easily be stored in any part of your home or RV.

Now, there are a couple of ways in which this differs from a traditional futon bed.

Firstly, it is not filled with cotton nor is the removable cover made of cotton. That’s advantageous to me because without properly airing it or drying it in the sun, cotton tends to form lumps. This is filled with polyester, which is easier to maintain, here in the northern part of Oregon which rarely sees sun for most part of the year.

The good part is that the fabric is anti-Bacterial and deodorized. It does have a slight chemical smell to it which takes some time to dissipate. We couldn’t sleep on it for three days in a row. But some febreze will help you if you want to use it right out of the box.

The mattress is just about the right thickness for futon beds. It is not an American styled spring mattress so you cannot expect it to be 8-10 inches thick. And for this reason, the manufacturer recommends that you do not use it directly to sleep on the floor.

That’s subjective though. I find it reasonably comfortable to sleep on even on the floor. I have used it in my tent too without any problems whatsoever. But that’s after I had a break-in period during which I got used to sleeping on Japanese futons.

The mattress is low on maintenance; the cover is removable and can be machine-washed. Most importantly, the comforter is extremely comfy.

What I like about it

  • Authentic futon styled set
  • Contains a mattress, a comforter and pillows
  • Matching covers
  • Machine washable covers




#2 – EMOOR, 6-Piece Japanese Futon Set

My next pick is this 6-piece futon set from, you guessed it, Emoor Japan again. This one now doubles up as the guest mattress at my home and is also frequently used when the kids decide to have an impromptu sleepover.

The mattress set is exactly similar to the #1 pick in this list of best Japanese futon sets. There’s one notable difference though. The cover is brown in color which makes them low on maintenance. It remains impervious to stains and dirt, which makes it ideal for kiddy use. You also have the option to pick a gray cover instead of this one.

The six piece set contains a Kakebuton, a Shikibuton, a pillow, a comforter cover, a mattress cover, a pillowcase and a storage case (zippered pouch).

It is the complete set that you’d need for travel or for portable use in a dorm or camping.

The mattress is only 5 cms thick though and ideally, you’d want to use it with an under-mattress especially if you are not used to sleeping directly on futons placed on the floor. Also, it is filled with 100% polyester and not cotton. So, the mattress itself is not washable.

The mattress cover is approximately 183 threads per inch and is very comfortable to sleep on. So is the comforter. We have used it in the winters and it is warm and comfy.

One of the best features is the pricing. The fact that you can get a 6 piece futon set for under $160 is absolutely amazing.

Like the earlier futon set from Emoor, we had to keep this outdoor for a while to let the chemical smell dissipate before we could use it.

What I like about it

  • 6 Piece Japanese futon set
  • Brown or Gray cover
  • Ideal for portable use or for use by kids
  • Comfortable and with removable covers
  • Priced under $ 160.




#3 – EMOOR Japanese Futon Set “Classe”

If you are looking for a classic and authentic Japanese futon, then you should check out the ‘Classe’ from Emoor. This is one of their flagship offerings that draws inspiration from the classic Japanese futons of yore and clubs it with contemporary elements that improve its functionality.

It is made in Japan and features a fabric filling from Teijin, which the manufacturers call ‘Mightytop II’

This is an engineered wading material that is made from industrial grade polyester. It is antibacterial, tick repellant and deodorizing. At the same time, Teijin uses a variety of third party testing methods to ensure that the deodorizing and anti-tick agents used in the mattress are completely safe for human use.

The outer fabric is 100% Hygroscopic Cotton with 200 thread Count which makes the ‘Classe’ one of the most comfortable futon mattresses that you will use. It stays warm during winters and does not stick to your body on a warm summer night.

This is a three piece set that contains a Kakebuton, a Shikibuton and a pillow. The mattress is approximately 2.5 inches in thickness. So that’s about half an inch thicker than the other two from Emoor.

Half an inch does little to improve the comfort thickness wise. However, the Mightytop II filling makes a marked difference from conventional polyester filling. It is softer and firmer to the touch. This allows you to use the futon without an under-mattress.

You can even use this directly on the floor without having to worry about it being uncomfortable.

When not in use, it folds up easily and you can use a couple of strings to tie it into a bundle which can then be tucked into the storage pouch from Emoor. It is not included in the package though. You can buy it separately.

What I like about it

  • Classic styled Japanese futon set
  • Mightytop II engineered polyester filling
  • 100% cotton cover with 200 thread Count
  • 2.5 inch thick mattress that can be used directly to sleep on the ground




#4 – D&D Futon Furniture Queen Size Cotton

We were so impressed with the D&D futon mattress that we decided to get one for our RV as a backup mattress or for those unexpected guests. To be fair, I would have bought this in place of the Emoor 4 piece set had I seen this first.

This is a queen sized futon mattress that is made in the USA. It is approximately 3 inches thick which is thicker than all the others in this list of best futon mattresses and it contains a blended filling.

That is 90% pure cotton, one layer of polyester and a layer of foam.

Now, I am all for 100% cotton-filled mattresses but that single layer of foam and polyester make this a lot more comfortable than any conventional Japanese futon can ever be.  It has a firm padded upper layer that gives your back optimum support.

There are customer reviews that speak about how comfortable this is when used to sleep directly on the floor and I completely agree with those. If you are struggling with back pain on a traditional inner spring or foam mattress, then try one of these.

D&D has also included a couple of strings on one end of the mattress which can be used to tie the mattress into a bundle when not in use.

There are a few things that also need mentioning here. Like all other mattresses in this list, this has a very strong chemical odor that I believe is due to the fire retardant chemicals that are used during shipping. There are two ways to get rid of it. One is to let it dry out naturally in the sun and the other is to use Febreze. But just use a little or else the mattress will smell like Febreze instead for a long time.

Also, due to the vacuum packaging, the mattress may be a tad out of shape when you first take it out of the box. However, the work around is easy. Just hold the mattress from either ends and pull it lightly to stretch. It should be back in shape in no time.

What I like about it

  • Traditional styled Japanese futon mattress made in the USA
  • 90% Cotton, polyester and foam filling for added comfort
  • Contains a set of strings which can be used to tie it when it is rolled up
  • Ideal for back pain
  • Queen sized which is ideal for two people