When most people think of a futon mattress they think of a Western style option as opposed to the Japanese inspired choices.
Almost always quite a bit thinner, quite a bit more flexible and (usually) significantly cheaper, there are a lot of benefits to a Japanese futon mattress you won’t get from a thicker Western style choice. Of course, finding the perfect futon mattress really all comes down to how you plan on using this furniture in the future.
But that’s why we have put together this quick guide.
By the time you’re done with the inside information below you’ll know all of the ins and outs of both of these style futon mattresses, with plenty of detail to make the right decision going forward.
Let’s dig right in!
Table of Contents
Big Differences Between Western and Japanese Futon Mattresses
The biggest difference Western style futon mattresses and Japanese style futon mattresses is their overall shape and form factor.
As highlighted above, Japanese futon mattresses are much thinner than Western style options. They are almost half as thin (if not even thinner) than their Western cousins, a lot more flexible can be folded and (generally) a little bit longer as well.
Another difference between these two options is that Japanese futon mattresses are intended to be used independently of a frame. Instead of having a big, bulky piece of furniture taking up a lot of space in your home or back bedroom, a Japanese futon mattress abandons the frame altogether.
You’ll still be able to convert the Japanese futon mattresses from beds to sofas, though – all by rolling the mattress up and using the rolled up part as a backrest. It’s a different approach completely but it definitely gets the job done, especially if you don’t mind sitting on the floor!
The Pros & Cons of Western Style Futon Mattresses
Western style futon mattresses are a great example of some of the best convertible furniture options available on the market today.
Effortlessly transitioning from a bed to a sofa and then back again, there’s a lot to like when it comes to these pieces of furniture – especially if you want something flexible and versatile, rather than taking up a lot of floor space with furniture that won’t get used that often.
Western style futon mattresses are also incredibly comfortable because they are a little bit thicker, a little bit heavier, and a little bit closer to a traditional mattress as far as feel goes compared to Japanese choices.
At the same time, Western style futon mattresses require a frame to work exactly as intended. You won’t get great results simply flopping your mattress right down on the floor and hoping for the best.
That frame is going to take up space, it’s going to be heavy and need to be repositioned as you change it from the sofa set up to a bed set up, and it’s generally going to be more expensive than a Japanese style mattress alone ever would be.
The ability to lay down on a futon bed or futon sofa that’s at the more “traditional” Western height compared to floor level Japanese mattresses is something you want to consider as well.
Some people love being able to use this piece of furniture the same way that they use all of their other pieces of furniture, while others are looking to lay down on for level to improve their back, their posture, or their health.
Those are all things that need to be considered.
The Pros & Cons of Japanese Style Futon Mattresses
Japanese style futon mattresses are designed to give your back a lot more support than what you find with most traditional Western style mattresses.
A little softer and more pliable than Western style mattresses, you’ll be able to twist, bend, and flex these thinner mattresses in ways you couldn’t with a Western option.
All of that allow you to create a much more complete and custom sleep platform when you want to use it as a bed – and it still works wonders as a sofa, too!
The second big advantage of Japanese style futon mattresses is that they take up a whole lot less space than traditional Western mattresses do.
You’ll be able to free up a significant amount of floor space that would have otherwise been gobbled up by traditional mattresses attached to your larger futon frames.
All of a sudden you have a big wooden or metal structure taking a room without adding a whole lot to the equation, especially when a simple Japanese inspired futon mattress would have offered similar (or better) sleeping and sitting experiences without that extra weight and heft.
The ability to quickly and easily clean a Japanese futon isn’t something you want to overlook either.
Traditional Western style mattresses are almost impossible to clean on their own, forcing you to spend money on futon mattress covers. These covers do a good enough job at protecting your futon most of the time, but then you have to zip them off, wash them separately, and put them back on your mattress every time you do able of laundry.
That gets annoying in a hurry.
Finally, the cotton construction materials used with Japanese futon mattresses make them very breathable, very comfortable all year round, and allow them to be safely stored when not in use without having to worry about the fabric becoming compromised.
On the flip side of things, Japanese futon mattresses are designed to sit right on the floor – and some people aren’t going to be crazy about that.
If you have difficulty getting up or down to the floor level to sit for sleep you won’t like using a Japanese futon mattress all.
Secondly, Japanese futon mattresses (usually) a little bit longer and a little bit wider than traditional Western futon mattresses are. This means that they are going to take up more space when rolled out but they do fold up and stowaway pretty easily.
Lastly, rolling your Japanese futon mattress up to turn it from a bed to itself from is always going to be a little bit involved. You’re going to have to roll it just right to get that level of comfort and consistency you are looking for. That can become tiresome in a hurry.
Things To Consider When Buying A Japanese Futon Mattress
Straightaway, you need to consider the type of material that your Japanese futon mattress is going to be made up before you purchase it.
The material used will decide how soft or hard the mattress is, how comfortable it is to sit on and to lay on, and whether or not you enjoyed using this piece of furniture or only turn to it as a last option kind of piece.
Secondly, you want to consider how you are going to be using this Japanese futon mattress in the future, too.
If you’re using it as a backup guest mattress, for example, that’s not a bad investment to make. If you’re going to use it as your day-to-day so far, though, you might want to look in a different direction.
It’s really all going to come down to how you hope to use this Japanese futon mattress moving forward.
Believe it or not, a lot of people like to combine Japanese futon mattresses with air mattresses to get the best of all worlds.
You slide the air mattress (fully blown up of course) underneath the Japanese futon mattress and you get a little more height, little more support, and a little extra comfort without having to take out all the floor space that a standalone Western style futon would have.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot to like when it comes to both Western style and Japanese style futon mattresses.
Finding the right choice for your specific needs is going to boil down to what you’re looking to get out of this furniture to begin with.
Some people are going to absolutely fall head over heels in love with everything that Japanese style futon mattresses offer, loving their simplicity, the thinness, and the versatility of these mattresses compared to the more than the big, bulky, and boxy Western options.
The others aren’t going to love having to get down on floor level to take advantage of the new piece of furniture that they’ve just purchased, instead preferring the larger frame style Western option.
It’s all going to come down to your personal preferences, what you’re hoping to get out of these mattresses in the first place, and how you hope to use your new futon moving forward.
All in all, there’s a lot to like with either of these options. The Japanese style is certainly unique in a variety of different ways and worthy of consideration and more research. Don’t be surprised if you fall head over heels for everything that it brings to the table when you get to try it out yourself in your own home!