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How to Use a Futon in Japan

by Bob Kerstetter

Japanese futons differ greatly from the wood-frame or metal-frame sofa beds Westerners call futons. The only similarities are, ah, well, nothing.

When you travel in Japan and stay in traditional facilities such as ryokans or inns you eventually sleep in a Japanese style bed—the futon. As a guest of the ryokan or inn, you often are expected to make your own futon. To do otherwise is considered to be impolite plus sullied and unhealthy.

The Japanese futons have no bed frames. Their futons consist of mattresses, comforters, sheets and at times soft mats. They lay out futons directly on tatami floors or soft mats.

The best instructions we know for this from a Western point of view are ones we have written from our personal experiences traveling in Japan.

So they are: how to lay out, sleep in and fold up your Japanese futon.


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