Tag Archives: futon sofa bed

Japanese Sofa Bed

It is surprising that as popular as the Japanese sofa bed, the futon is, how little people know about it. This style bed has been used for many centuries in Japan and is still one of the most common pieces of furniture in Japanese households. Originally the futon was not used as a sofa at all. In feudal Japan each room in the house was used for many different purposes. The true Japanese sofa bed actually is composed of three separate pieces. The frame, which supports everything, the bottom mattress, which is called the shikibuton, and the kakebuton which is a quilted cover. Traditionally the mattress was very thin, so the entire bed could be easily folded and stored when not in use.

Futons today have changed considerably from the original Japanese sofa bed. The sofa position being added is a major difference and this has made the futon bed into a multi-purpose. The second major difference is the frame. Traditional futons were made of bamboo, which needed to be sunned and beaten with a cane pole frequently and the new frames are made of many different kinds of woods. Some futons are a combination of woods and metal but you can find some, very expensive though, that are 100% wood or bamboo. Now that the bed is used as a stationary piece of furniture the mattress has also gotten significantly thicker. Cheap futon mattresses usually measure about 4” and a high quality mattress can be as thick as 8” or more. The new mattresses are very easy to clean and have a removable cover that can either be cleaned or changed. A new incarnation of the futon is the Western variety. Like a traditional futon is more of a bed that folds into a sofa, the Western is more of a sofa that drops to a bed.