Advice regarding a new mattress or Shikibuton
January 6, 2014 9:58 AM   Subscribe

The wife and I desperately need a new mattress. Any experience with shikibutons?

The wife and I desperately need a new mattress. We've been sleeping on a regular futon for the past 4 years, and it's pretty awful. I came across a site called which sells shikibutons. Does anyone have any experience with them? The comments on Amazon rate them very high, but we're wondering if it would be better to just go with a "real" mattress.
posted by chirico to Shopping (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you asking about in particular, or shikibuton generally? In my experience the latter are comfortable, but differently from a "real" mattress (basically you're sleeping on a very thick quilt on the floor). You also are supposed to air and sun them regularly, which is a bit of a pain.
posted by chocotaco at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2014

You should be able to sidestep the airing out if you get/make a washable cover for it.
posted by jsturgill at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2014

While I'm very curious about the tuftandneedle in particular, I have no experience at all with shikibutons, so wonder if it would be something I might find an acceptable substitute for a mattress. Buying mattresses seems so stressful!
posted by chirico at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2014

I've slept on shikibuton many times in Japan. The reason I do not sleep on them in America is because I do not have to. As chocotaco noted, it is not a mattress. It is essentially a thick quilt. Here are some shikibuton. There is also a reason most Japanese sleep on beds rather than futon when they can.

I cannot speak to the Tuft and Needle site because I have never slept on their product, but it looks like a mattress that is placed on the floor rather than a shikibuton. Then again, the American "futon", which is generally an uncomfortable couch that turns into an uncomfortable bed, bears little resemblance to the Japanese futon.

Since we don't know what makes your futon awful for you, it is hard to know in what way, if any, the American "shikibuton" would be an improvement or even a change. For me, I prefer a real bed with a pillowtop mattress. But, this is a highly individual matter of comfort, so I can't tell you what mattress or sleeping gadget is best for you. (I am confused about how mattress shopping is so stressful - you generally get to lie down on a bunch of them and it feels great)
posted by Tanizaki at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the answers. I suppose stressful meaning by the sheer amount of choices at times seems overwhelming. It's hard for me to determine if I will like a mattress just by feeling it out for 20 minutes. Though by your answers I think a regular mattress is the way to go, so this has already been helpful, so thank you!
posted by chirico at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2014

Tuftsandneedles does look more like a mattress than not. They have a return policy, and they're inexpensive, and they're rated well on Amazon. I'd give them a shot based on that, particularly if I felt overwhelmed looking at other options. Just get it over with, man!

Although I would check to see who pays return shipping, and make sure it was an acceptable loss if their thing wasn't for me, before I ordered anything.
posted by jsturgill at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2014

I don't know about shikibuton but I love sleeping on a "American futon" for its firmness. The ones I've used are thick cotton pads, which can be used on the floor but definitely must be aired because otherwise the humidity builds up to a level that becomes mold. We use our futon on a slatted frame, so air circulates underneath, but still find that rolling it occasionally makes for a softer, less compressed pad.
posted by anadem at 10:46 AM on January 6, 2014

Yeah, their return policy is pretty generous, so it may be worth just giving it a shot. You're absolutely right - I just need to get it over with!!
posted by chirico at 11:45 AM on January 6, 2014

Please note that Tuft & Needle is not a shikibuton (which, as far as I know, is typically all cotton filling). I believe they used to be all cotton filling, but now they have a foam core. Essentially it's just a foam mattress. They don't go into what type of foam, so it's definitely not the more expensive (and arguably more desirable) latex foam.
posted by bluecore at 12:18 PM on January 6, 2014

When I first moved into my studio apartment, I didn't have any furniture and slept on a shikibuton for a couple of months. I got mine from J-Life, and I have no idea where they source theirs. Sleeping on it with a tiny, hard buckwheat pillow was very bearable, but obviously different from sleeping on a fancy bed that's made like a multistage space vehicle. I can see myself going back to it for a while, but not forever. The biggest issue for me was lack of lower back support, since the futon is basically just a thick floormat. Whatever points on your body come into contact with it is what you'll be sleeping on, so it may not be as good for people who sleep on their backs, rather than on the side. It feels kind of like camping.
posted by Nomyte at 2:58 PM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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