The History of Traditional Japanese Futon
The history of the modern Japanese futon started in the 18th century. At this time cotton became more available in Japan and nobles began to use it to fill their bedding.
When first introduced futon were only used by the most wealthy and occasionally by Geisha who were presented with them by patrons. As cotton became more available and less expensive futon became the bedding of choice for all Japanese. Now even though modern Western mattresses are available, the majority of Japanese still prefer to use futons. Before the introduction of the modern cotton futon, different forms of bedding were used in Japan. In the 8th century peasants would sleep on piles of straw or woven straw mats. This led to the popularity of tatami mats that were laid on the floor, piled up if the person was of a high status. A pillow would also be made of tatami. At that time Tatami mats did not cover the whole floor as became common later.
Japanese futon became popular in the western world in the 1970’s. Their popularity is often attributed to returning soldiers who had experienced the health benefits of sleeping on a futon. Many reports of better back health from sleeping on a futon led to a surge in popularity, especially in the United States. Futons are low cost, comfortable and space saving (they can be folded away during the day). This has led to them having a place in many homes across the world.
The futon is one of the key associations that people have when they have travelled to Japan. Many people returning to the UK have found that they prefer to use an authentic Japanese futon for a wide variety of health reasons. Our futon are filled with organic cotton and are made in a traditional way by artisans in Japan. Learn more about the history of futon on wikipedia. You’ll find some lovely pictures of antique futon too.