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I hate futons

July 31, 2007

That’s right. I hate them. Yes, it is a serious word. And I mean it.

I helped a friend move today. I’m happy to do it, because with good friends you always know what comes around goes around. Plus, moving is one of those things where you notice how much faster and efficient it goes when you have a group of people helping.

Futons are the worst things ever conceived and constructed. I’ve always hated everything about them. They are not comfortable to sit on. They are certainly not comfortable to sleep on. But, it is moving day when my hatred for futons really comes out.

When you try and pick the thing up, one side tries to fold over and slice off and/or crush your fingers. As you and the other sorry soul who is trying to carry the thing with you attempt to rotate only slightly to get out the door, then the other side slams down. Why isn’t there some sort of fastening device included with this overly-complicated folding monstrosity?

And that’s just the frame. Then the so-called mattress. If there is any piece of furniture that, when carried, resembles a dead body it must be the futon mattress.

I’m not sure why, but i assumed the futon was invented by the Swedish or someone else in northern Europe, but apparently it is a Japanese idea. I have no basis for saying this, but I bet the Japanese futons are better somehow. Not good by any means….but better.

I hate futons.

If anyone has anything to say in defense of futons…..I would like to hear it.

image above from here


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 1, 2007 10:27 am

    Hmmm, interesting. You are confusing a rock with its environment, or semething like that. A futon is a mattress, very old in form and function, and, I might add, one of the best sleeping devices ever devised by man. If a futon were ever to try to slice your hand off, then we’d have a story! The futon FRAME, however, is a modern (probably Am.) afterthought, quite silly and useless, especially to
    an (admitted) purist.

    PS I hate futon frames also!

  2. Brian permalink
    August 1, 2007 12:26 pm

    yes….interesting, indeed.

    okay then, the distinction between the frame and mattress is now established.

    even so…i find it difficult to accept those mattresses being “one of the best sleeping devices ever devised by man”…..but, I fully acknowledge that I (1) have never tried a good one and (2) am jaded and bitter due to my hatred for the frame!

  3. March 30, 2008 8:06 pm

    Seriously, a real Japanese futon is indeed “one of the best sleeping devices ever devised by man”.

    The whole point of them, is you roll them up during the day when you need your minuscule floor space for other things; then roll them out at night and sleep on them.

    The constant rolling and unrolling keeps them fluffy and nice, so they’re actually comfortable to sleep on, too. Well, as long as you like a firm mattress!

    The problems arise when you take the cheapest futon you can possibly make, whack it on a frame and try to use it like a mattress. Pretty soon, it’s more-or-less indistinguishable from a bag of lead. Hard to sleep on, heavy to move, but often rather smelly (which, AFAIK is not a characteristic it shares with lead).

    So I guess all I can say is, I agree with both comments: futons are either terrible or wonderful, depending on the exact futon we’re talking about and what sort of life it’s led!

  4. Elise permalink
    June 19, 2008 6:41 am

    There is a HUGE difference between the original futon (as used in Japan) and the thing North Americans *call* a “futon”. The Japanese version is filled with cotton batting, down, silk, or a fiber called “kapok”. It is meant to be used directly on the floor, on a sleeping mat called a “tatami”, or on a kind of “under futon” matress called a “shikibuton”

    The shikibuton is stuffed with cotton batting and generally quite firm, although thin enough (5 inches or less) to be rolled or folded into a “z” shape for daytime storage. The American futon is derived from this. However, the American version is thicker, may contain foam, polyester batting, and/or an interspring. This makes the American version heavier and more unweildy. There is no way you can fold an American futon into a “Z” and rolling it is a mockery of the term!

    Basically, the American “futon” is a poor-man’s version of a fold out sofa-bed.

    • Mike Wazak permalink
      July 26, 2012 7:08 am


      One thing you didnt consider is the “Look”. It’s not always about the feeling and being confortable.

      Sofa beds habitually looks way better than futons.

      Just my two cents,
      Living Room Furniture

  5. June 19, 2008 7:30 am

    Elise … thanks for the comment … I think I need to experience a “true” futon. I guess I should re-phrase this as ‘I hate American-style futons’.

    • September 16, 2012 10:16 am

      Brian, I can recommend the J-Life International twin-sized shikibuton placed directly on hardwood or on tatami (hold off on the Tatami, they’re expensive), along with one of their square buckwheat hull pillows. The buckwheat hull pillow will be TERRIBLE on anything but a good mattress–preferably firm; I got one when I had an $800 queen sized bed and the pillow was great, but then I noticed my bed was terrible! The pillow was better than the bed!

      Two warnings about the JLI though: it’s sewn shut (no zipper) so don’t expect to be able to rebuild it yourself if you flatspot it; and you really need to treat these things right.

      Think about an American mattress. You need to rotate the mattress every 1-3 months or it gets lumpy. With a shikibuton, you want to beat it every morning or you get the same problem.

      When you get up, lift one end and slam it down on the ground 3-5 times, then do so with the other. If you have two people there, lift and drop the whole thing 3-5 times. Then roll it up starting at the head (where your head was). Beating and rolling the mattress helps to stress the fibers, preventing them from settling into dips.

      When you bring the mattress out, be aware that the head is the center, and the outside is the bottom. Accordingly, try to flip and rotate the mattress every day. One day, make the opposite end the head; the next, do the same, but also make the bottom the top. This will even out the wear and prevent dips.

      Every summer, hang the mattress outside on a bright, sunny day for a few hours. This will warm and relax the fibers and help dry the inside. Once a year maintenance.

      It’s a good 2 minutes of maintenance a day, but it’s worth it. If you like the futon, you’ll want it to not deteriorate too bad over time. Also, you can put it away and have open space to do push-ups and jumping jacks in the morning.

  6. Bill permalink
    September 7, 2008 10:42 am

    I found your blog while searching for parts for a broken futon. Enough said.

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