Japanese Bedding FAQs

In this page, you will find our:

  1. Shikifuton FAQs
  2. Kakefuton FAQs
  3. Buckwheat Pillow FAQs
  4. Tatami Mat FAQs


J-Life Shikifutons with Cover


1. I’m interested in building my Japanese Sleep System. Where should I start?

Please visit our blog Build Your Bed - What Makes up the Japanese Sleep System? to learn about all of our Japanese bedding options and how to start building your bed.


2. How authentic is the J-Life Shikifution, where is it made, and from what materials?

The design of the J-Life All-Natural Japanese Futon was meticulously created years ago with the help of shikibuton master craftsmen in Japan. Our goal was - and still is - to offer an authentic Japanese futon bed for people all around the world to enjoy. Our shikifutons adhere to centuries of Japanese tradition, and are therefore made of pure cotton. They are free from foam, springs, polyester, and other synthetic mattress materials.

Our shikifutons are made in the USA to our exact specifications and standards by a separate supplier.

The J-Life All-Natural Japanese Futon is made with:

  • A 100% unbleached cotton duck cover.

  • 100% cotton fill for comfort and natural air-flow.

  • Natural boron material (as required by US fire retardant standards - please see question #16).

The J-Life Certified Organic Japanese Futon is made with:

  • A 100% certified organic cotton cover.

  • 100% certified organic cotton fill for comfort and natural air-flow.

  • An organic wool inner lining (as required by US fire retardant standards)


3. My futon just arrived and it seems smaller than it should be. Did I receive the wrong product?

Due to compression caused by the packing and shipping process, your new futon may be several inches smaller than its actual size upon delivery. This makes it easier to transport the mattress by making it slightly less bulky. Over time, your shikifuton will fully expand to its actual size. Please allow at least 1-2 weeks for it to fully expand.

4. My futon just arrived. Can I start sleeping on it immediately?

Yes! Feel free to start using your shikifuton immediately. We do advise allowing a couple of days for expansion (please read the explanation provided for question #3) before using your bed, but we understand that this may not be an option for everyone.

5. Does my futon have to go on a tatami mat? Can I place it directly on the floor?

No, a tatami mat is not required for your shikifuton. It can be placed directly on the floor, although we do advise eventually incorporating tatami or a similar underlayment into your bedding.

The primary reason we advise using a tatami mat with your shikifuton is that they aid in air circulation. Because our shikifutons are made using all-natural materials (see question #2), they are susceptible to mold and mildew growth, like any other cotton mattress. When a shikifuton is used directly on a floor, the moisture created by sleeping on the mattress becomes trapped inside. This is the same reason that many popular mattress brands also advise against placing them directly on the floor.

Another reason to use a tatami mat is to add cushioning and support underneath your shikifuton. Shikifutons are considered to be firm by Western standards and are relatively thin when compared to a modern mattress, so the tatami mat helps to distribute weight evenly and allow a little bit of cushioning that a hard floor cannot provide.

We have written a number of blogs about our tatami mats if you’d like to learn more.

6. Do I need a cover for my futon?

No, you do not need a cover for your futon, but we strongly advise using one. Our 100% cotton traditional Japanese shikifuton covers help to protect and prolong the life of your futon (and they look better!)

If you compare your shikifuton to a Western mattress, then the cover is akin to a fitted sheet. If you would use a sheet on your spring or foam mattress, then we advise using our Japanese futon covers.

7. Can my 100% cotton shikifuton cover(s) be washed?

Yes! Our traditional Japanese futon covers are machine washable.

We advise using cold water only and tumble drying on low setting, or line drying. Drying machines are notoriously hard on fabric, so to keep your shikibuton covers looking good as new, we advise line drying when possible to prevent fading and damage. Hot water and hot drying will cause your futon covers to shrink.

8. How do I care for my futon?

Please visit our comprehensive Shikifuton Care Guide to learn more about caring for your mattress. This blog explains in depth how to maintain and clean your Japanese futon, so it can last for years to come!

9. How often should I flip, rotate, air, and sun my futon?

We recommend flipping and rotating your J-Life shikifuton every 1-2 weeks to prevent denting.

We recommend airing and sunning your J-Life futon monthly at a minimum, but this varies depending on how, where, and how often you use your futon. Check out our care guide to learn how often you should sun your shikifuton based on how you use it.

Please visit our comprehensive Shikifuton Care Guide to learn more about caring for your mattress. This blog explains in depth how to maintain and clean your Japanese futon, so it can last for years to come!

10. I don’t have anywhere to sun my futon outdoors due to lack of space, poor weather, pollen, etc. Is there any way I can do it indoors?

Many people who own (or are interested in owning) a shikifuton may not have a place in or around their home that allows adequate space or sunlight to air out their futon, but there are plenty of ways to get around this issue.

To air and sun your futon indoors, we recommend placing it in front of a large, open window or door that receives plentiful sunlight. The futon can be rested across the back of a chair(s), table, or railing to elevate it.

Please visit our comprehensive Shikifuton Care Guide for a more detailed explanation.

11. How do I store my futon?

We advise using the triple-fold method when storing or transporting your Japanese futon.

Storing your futon during the day or when not in use is an excellent way to protect your mattress, save space, and to create a healthy mental association between your sleep cycle and your bed.

To do the triple-fold method, simply fold your mattress into even thirds. Try to keep the folds somewhat loose to avoid creating dents in the cotton fill. Click here to see an image example of the triple-fold method.

12. I’m worried about my shikifuton getting dirty or damaged. How can I protect it?

Your shikifuton is an investment that should last for years to come, so we understand wanting to protect it from all of life’s mishaps, such as spills, tears, pets, and more.

Our Shikifuton Protective Cover easily zips over your futon to serve as a barrier layer. This protective cover is water resistant, mold resistant, and machine washable to help add extra protection against moisture and whatever else life may bring.
13. Do I have to wash my Shikifuton Protective Cover before using it?

No, you do not have to wash your Shikifuton Protective Cover before using, although we advise that you do. Washing your protective cover helps to “freshen” it after the shipping process and makes it less stiff. It is generally considered a best practice to wash anything before using it on your bed.

14. Do I have to remove the coverings from my shikifuton before airing and sunning?

Yes, you should remove your Shikifuton Protective Cover and shikibuton mattress cover before airing and sunning. Doing so will allow your mattress to receive proper airflow and sunlight in order to release moisture and dust. Keeping the covers on will hinder the effectiveness of airing and sunning your futon.

Tip: Since you’ll be removing your covers anyway, try turning your sunning schedule into a full bed refresh routine by washing your shikifuton covers whenever you sun your futon.

15. Can my shikifuton only be used for sleeping?

Nope! There are many fun and creative alternative uses for a Japanese shikibuton. Check out our blog about this subject here.

16. I noticed that the J-Life All-Natural Japanese Futon has boric acid in it. Is it safe?

In 1975, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission implemented fire retardant standards for mattress manufacturers in an effort to reduce household fires caused by smoking in bed. Since then, it has become mandatory for all mattresses sold in the US to pass a number of fire-related tests. As a result, most mattress manufacturers turned to using flame retardant chemicals in their mattresses in order to pass these tests.

Although many flame retardants used in mattresses in the past were eventually linked to serious health issues, some have been found to do their job without causing harm to your health - one of these being boric acid. We choose to use boron-treated cotton in our traditional Japanese futon because it meets both Consumer Product Safety Standards and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for being non-toxic and non-carcinogenic - without compromising the authenticity of our futon.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit our blog: Using Boric Acid as a Fire Retardant.


17. Are there any alternatives to boric acid in my mattress?

If you’re still hesitant about borate in your bed but would like to make the switch to a J-Life Shikifuton, then our J-Life Certified Organic Japanese Futon is the futon for you. This authentic organic cotton shikibuton adheres to all of the same specs of a traditional shikifuton, but contains an organic wool lining as its fire retardant, rather than boric acid. 


J-Life Silk Japanese Comforter


1. How do I care for my kakefuton?

Due to the 100% silk filling, the J-Life Kakefuton should not be machine washed. We recommend spot cleaning as needed and occasional dry cleaning by a cleaner who specializes in caring for silk.

Silk is naturally a very fine and delicate material. Machine washing it - especially when it’s in something as large as a kakebuton comforter - can damage the silk, cause shrinkage and clumping, and ruin the overall integrity of the product over time.

We strongly advise using one of our washable kakefuton covers to help keep your kakefuton clean and protect it.

Please visit our comprehensive Kakefuton Care Guide to learn more about caring for your Japanese duvet.

2. Can my kakefuton cover(s) be washed?

Yes! Unlike the mulberry silk duvet, our 100% cotton kakefuton covers are machine washable, tumble or line dry.

We advise using cold water only and tumble drying on low setting, or line drying. Drying machines are notoriously hard on fabric, so to keep your Japanese duvet covers looking good as new, we advise line/ hang drying when possible to prevent fading and damage. Hot water and hot drying will cause your kakefuton covers to shrink.


3. Do I need a cover for my kakefuton?

No, you do not need a cover for your kakefuton comforter, but we strongly advise using one. Our 100% cotton traditional Japanese kakefuton covers help to protect and prolong the life of your comforter (and they look better!)


4. What is the difference between a kakefuton and a regular duvet?

The biggest difference between a Japanese kakefuton and a regular duvet or comforter is the filling. While many comparable products are filled with polyester or cotton, the J-Life Kakefuton is filled with strands of 100% hand-pulled mulberry silk.

Silk is not only luxuriously soft and comfortable when used in bedding, but it also has hypoallergenic and temperature regulating properties. This makes a silk-filled duvet the perfect choice for people with asthma or if you’re looking for a cooling blanket for hot sleepers that will still keep you warm in the colder months.


J-Life Sobakawa Pillows

Buckwheat Pillow

1. What is buckwheat?

Buckwheat husks (also called buckwheat hulls) are the tiny, hard outer shells of the seeds of the buckwheat plant. Despite its name, this flowering plant is actually not closely related to common grains, such as wheat or barley.

Buckwheat became a popular pillow filling around 600 years ago in Japan before materials like cotton became easily accessible. Since then, it has maintained a reputation as a bit of a “hidden gem” when it comes to finding a comfortable, supportive pillow.

Soba gara makura, or sobakawa pillows, are firm yet cushioning, thanks to the springy nature of the buckwheat husk filling. They align with the contours of your head and neck - regardless of what position you sleep in - to maintain comfort and support all night long. Buckwheat pillows are also great for temperature control, since the hulls allow plenty of airflow and breathability when compared to cotton or polyester filling.

You can learn more about buckwheat pillow benefits on our blog.

2. How do I care for my buckwheat hull pillow(s)?

Like all J-Life fabrics, our 100% cotton buckwheat pillow cases are machine washable in cold water (to prevent shrinkage). Simply slide the sheath off, then unzip the cover to remove it, and toss both in the washing machine. Both can be put in the dryer on low heat, or flat dried.

Buckwheat hull filling is not washable and should never come in contact with water.

Please see our buckwheat hull pillow care guide for more information.

3. My buckwheat pillow is too soft or firm. What can I do?

Simply remove the sheath and cover, unzip your buckwheat pillow, and add or remove buckwheat filling as needed. Our buckwheat hull filling is available for purchase by the pound here.

4. My buckwheat pillow has lost shape or the hulls were damaged or ruined. What can I do?

If you need to replace the filling in your buckwheat hull pillow because it is old or got wet, there is no need to buy a whole new pillow! Our buckwheat hull filling is available for purchase by the pound here.


J-Life Grass Tatami Mats

Tatami Mat

1. I’m interested in using a tatami mat as a base for my shikifuton mattress. What size mat do I need?

Please refer to our comprehensive size guide to learn which tatami mat will best fit your shikifuton bed.

2. How do I care for my tatami mat(s)?

Authentic tatami is a unique flooring that is fragile, but still durable enough for everyday use and can last for years to come when cared for properly. Please see our Tatami Mat Care Guide to learn how to prolong the life of your tatami and keep it in great condition.

3. Why is there a smell coming from my tatami mats?

Because J-Life tatami mats are made the traditional way using 100% Japanese rush grass, there is a natural aroma that comes from the mat. Many users of tatami compare this smell to that of fresh hay or certain grasses.

Many people actually enjoy the scent of tatami, and Japanese people often associate it with feelings of nostalgia. If the scent is something you dislike or are worried about, rest assured that it will dissipate over time as the mat ages and dries.

Please note that moisture and humid weather can also exacerbate the scent of a new mat, as well as the shipping and packaging process, since the mat has been sealed up for some time.

4. Are J-Life tatami mats grass green or brown? Why does/ did the color change?

 J-Life tatami mats are made the traditional way using 100% Japanese rush grass, which gives them their soft green hue. This is what color your tatami mat will be when it arrives. As the grass ages, it naturally will shift in color to a tan color. This is a natural process that should be expected - it is not a defect in your tatami nor does it impact the quality or durability of the mat.

Harsh sunlight will expedite the process, so if you’d like to preserve the green color of your tatami for as long as possible, avoid placing it in direct sunlight.

If you’d like to learn more about tatami mat composition, please visit our blog: What’s in a Tatami Mat?



Don’t see your question listed here? Feel free to contact our customer service team and they’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have! 

Phone: 877-412-8698 

Email: info@jlifeinternational.com