What Is A Futon?


Futon History - Why Is It Called A Futon?


What is a Futon?

The word FUTON is an ancient Japanese word originally referring to a round mat our cushion filled with leaves. The whole FUTON is made with three pieces and was placed on the ground or on a tatami mat. The three pieces consist of a futon, which is a thin cotton pad, a shikibuton which is a three folding pad that sits under the thin cotton pad, and a Kakibuton which is a comforter that goes on top of the thin cotton pad.

Japanese Futon: The truth is, our founders related to the pure, local and natural lifestyle of Japanese culture, The Futon Shop seemed like the perfect name. The Futon Shop is a Japanese name by nature, as Japanese stores were called by their base name. Tofu Shop, Futon Shop, Sushi Shop, Sandal Shop etc. The first futons handcrafted by the founders over 40 years ago where similar to traditional Futons in both their production and use, being made and placed directly on the floor.

Whether you are referring to a Traditional Japanese Style Futon, a Western Style Futon, or a Platform Bed Futon, the design will consist of 3 main items. Although with each different style, the items are named differently, their functions are identical. The three parts include; a supportive layer; a mattress layer;  and a covering or top layer.

1. A Traditional Japanese Style Futon the 3 parts are called the Shikibuton, Futon, Kakibuton

Shiki Futon Mattresses

2. A Western Style Futon has the Futon Frame, Futon Mattress, and Futon Slipcover

Futon Frames

3. A Futon Platform Bed has the Platform Bed Frame

Platform Beds

4. A Futon Mattress, and Mattress Topper

Chemical Free & Organic Mattresses
The Futon Shop

Organic Mattresses
Organic Sofas
Natural Bed Frames


The Futon Shop made the first American born Futon in Boston in 1974. The Futon Shop's first original Futon was handmade on the floor consisting of all cotton and was approximately 6 inches thick. You could roll them up and store away in the morning and pull out at night when needed. This traditional Futon is difficult to find in America today, but has been making a resurgence in recent years as the interest in minimalist room decor has increased.

Today, a futon is used to describe either the traditional Japanese style bedding, a Western Style convertible couch, or a platform style bed mattress. This broad term definition makes it confusing for consumers. In today's world, a futon has become synonymous with any sort of folding bed, including sofa beds, futon mattress, a thin cotton mattress, or a thick mattress filled with almost anything you can imagine.

We at the Futon Shop call any mattress that we manufacture a futon mattress. We still define the word futon as part of the whole. In comparison to traditional futon mattresses, which consist of a shikibuton, futon, and kakibuton, a Western Style Futon consists of the Futon Mattress, Futon Frame, and Futon Slipcover. Our futon mattresses are equivalent to standard American mattresses except for one small fact; our futon mattresses can bend into a sofa and then again can lay flat so you make a bed. Further, our Futon Mattresses do not require a boxspring. They can rest on any slatted surface, no matter if that surface is moveable as in the case of a convertible futon sofa bed, or stationary like a traditional platform bed.

In keeping with the ideology of natural living however, most of our mattresses use all natural and organic ingredients, replacing the synthetic and petroleum based fibers used in traditional mattresses. Futons made by the Futon Shop include ingredients such as organic cotton, virgin wool, natural Dunlap latex, micro coils and springs, memory gel's and foams, coconut core all layered together in different recipes to create different sleeping experiences that can be customized for your specific needs.

There are many Futon's on the market today that use inferior materials, making them uncomfortable and not long lasting. The Futon Shop strives to make the finest, highest quality, chemical free futon mattresses at the lowest possible price on the market today. With 40 years of experience and over 2 million happy Futon customer's throughout the United States, our futons are the best futon mattresses available worldwide. Whether you're using a futon as an every night bed, an occasional guest bed, a toddler bed, or bed for your teenage son or daughter, a futon made by the Futon Shop has the largest range of options with the highest quality materials to choose from and will offer you a great nights sleep.


To put is simply, a futon can represent a mattress, a convertible bed, a platform bed, a sofa bed or a simple thin cotton mattress. When shopping for a Futon it is best to be specific what you are looking. For instance, if you were just looking for a mattress that can fold search for a futon mattress. If you are looking for a wooden futon frame to hold the mattress then just search for a futon frame. If you are looking for a cover to go on top of your mattress then you should search for a futon cover. If you are looking for a wooden futon frame and mattress you should search for a futon frame and mattress set. If you are searching for a sofa bed and call it a futon you will find an inexpensive sofa bed most likely made in China. It is unfortunate that so many companies are calling cheap Chinese sofa beds as Futon's as they are not.

Traditional Futons vs New Futons

What Are The Sizes Of Futons?

When it comes to buying a mattress it’s important to know what size you need. If you are replacing an existing mattress, just match the dimensions of your old mattress. If you are buying a new bed and mattress together you’ll need to ensure that it is big enough for you to lie down on and comfortably move around and that it fits in the space you need it to go.

Mattress sizes have been more or less standardized in the US over the years. The image above lists the most common standard sizes. The dimensions are provided in Inches. European and Asian sizes may differ.

Futon Mattress Sizes

What Is The Mattress Manufacturing Process?

Futon Mattress Firmnesses

Caring for your Futon mattress

Futon mattresses require a little more care than standard boxspring mattresses. The main enemy to the futon mattress is moisture. Moisture in your futon mattress can the fibers to compress, leading to potentially hard and flattened uncomfortable sleeping surface. A person loses moisture as a normal part of sleep. If this moisture is not released from your mattress, over time, the fibers will begin to compress and compact.

Mattress Care

Further, if the moisture is allowed to build for a substantial amount of time, it can lead to the growth of dust mites and possibly mildew. There are products available that act as a moisture barrier and we suggest purchasing a mattress pad or barrier cover. Following the steps below will also ensure that you have a long lasting and comfortable futon mattress.

  • Rotate and flip your futon mattress regularly
  • Allow for proper air circulation
  • Protect you futon from moisture
  • Give your futon some sun light
  • Air out your futon

More information On Futon Mattress Care
How To Clean A Futon Mattress

Futon Frame Manufacturers

The Whole Futon - We've Got You Covered

Fabric Swatches

Fabric Swatches

So you have done all of your homework. You have selected the perfect colors and patterns for your futon slipcover and matching pillows by following these steps. You are almost done!


The worst feeling though, is to go through this process, have your cover and pillows brought to your home only to find that they don't really work as well as you had imagined. To prevent this, it is important to request a sample of the fabric to bring home and view. This is especially important if you are purchasing your slipcovers and pillows online. Sometimes monitor settings can provide a slightly different color than what the fabric actually looks like. As a standard practice, you should always request a fabric sample to take with you or to have mailed to you. Many companies will offer swatch samples at no charge.
Click here to view our best selling slipcover and pillow fabrics, then click here to request a fabric swatch.

Futon Platform Beds

Futon Platform Bed
Futon Daybed
Minimalist Futon Bed Frame

Not all Platform Bed Frames are created equally. There are two main types of bedframes, the slatted bedframe and a bedframe without slats. A non-slatted bedframe is designed specifically for use with a boxspring and mattress. The boxspring provides the majority of the support structure for the mattress. Slatted bedframes, however, can be used with, or without a boxspring. This is ideal for futon mattresses as the open slat structure allows proper airflow through the mattress, helping to prevent sagging and dipping.

Boxspring Platform Bed
Futon Platform Bed

Futon Accessories

Custom Futon Options

Custom Futon Cushions
Custom Pillows
Custom Futons

Sometimes mattresses and cushions just don't fit in a nicely squared off space. Say for instance, a bay window or a seat cushion for your kitchen nook. Maybe your bedframe has been imported and it does not match the standard sized mattress found in the US. What are your options? Having a customized futon mattress or cushion is a great option and it is not as expensive as you may think. You can design your own mattress, starting with the shape, the ingredients, and most importantly, the fabric. Click Here for more information on customizing your cushion.

Futon Packages with Free Shipping

From each of these components, we have created a list of the most popular and affordable Futon Sets.

Types of Futon Sets