How to use a Wafuton

Places Where a Wafuton Is Used

As described in the previous article, ‘History of Wafuton’, a wafuton is originally supposed to be used with the tatami mats to achieve the suitable resilience so that you can get a nice and comfortable sleep. However, there are many people who live in the houses without any Japanese-style rooms and they usually place a futon directly on the wooden floor. It is fine to do so, but there are some things that you should be aware of.

Condensation tends to be formed on the cold wooden floor when it is heated by body heats while sleeping and a wafuton is exposed to the condensation formed on the floor. As a result of it, not only the futon but also the floor become moldy. So when you use the futon with the wooden floor daily, use some items for preventing your futon from molding.

1) A highly absorbent mattress
It is a mattress designed for wooden floor, which is usually 5cm in thickness and made of polyester. This mattress has two breaks so that it can be folded in three when not in use. Since it is highly absorbent, it becomes moldy easily, so make sure to dry it outdoors regularly. If you choose a washable one, you can often wash it to keep it clean.

2) Moisture Absorbent Sheets
It is like a mattress pad which can absorb the moisture. You can place it between the wooden floor and the shiki-buton. This item is thin and washable, so it is popular in Japan. Even if you use this item, you might feel pain in the back unless you use it with a thick shiki-buton.

3) Oki-tatami
This is a portable tatami mat which can be easily placed on the wooden floor. If you use a futon with this tatami mat, you will be able to get nice and comfort sleep. If you leave the tatami mat laid out on the floor, you can lie on the mat anytime instead of using a sofa or carpet. There is also a bed-typed tatami mat.

How to Use a Wafuton (The Daily Cycle of a Futon)

A wafuton can be laid out only when necessary and can be put away in the closet when not in use. This is the good point about the wafuton. If you place a bed in a 6-8 mat room, it occupies too much space. As for a futon, you can use the room as a living space during the day.

Let’s see the daily futon cycle.

Wake-up: Fold up your futon
You futon may be damp from night sweat after you woke up in the morning, so leave the folded futon on the floor for a while to let the moisture evaporate.

After breakfast: Put away your futon in the closet or dry it outdoors
You can put away your futon in the closet when you are busy. But expose it to the sun outdoors on a sunny day. Drying the futon outdoors at least once a week would be desirable to keep it clean.

Afternoon: Take in your futon if you are drying it outdoors and put it away in the closet.
After you dry your futon outdoors, you can clean dust mites on the surface of the futon with a vacuum cleaner with the nozzle for a futon attached.

At night: Lay out your futon
Once a futon is laid out on the floor, it will become children’s mattress to play with in the houses with small children and children enjoy a pleasant time.

Bedtime: Sleep on the futon.

The learning of futon-related Japanese vocabulary

In Western countries, it is customary for parents to sleep separately from their children. On the other hand, in many Asian countries including Japan, it is customary for parents sleep together with their younger children. And sleeping in such a style is called kawa-no-ji. Kawa means a river in English. The state that parents and children sleep side by side looks like the kanji character ‘kawa’(川), hence the name ‘Kawa-no-ji.’

Since the homes and apartments in Japan tend to be more compact than those in Western countries, it may be difficult to give a child his/her own bedroom, which may lead to the custom that parents sleep together with their younger children. Although a baby bed has been common over the past few decades, some mothers still prefer sleeping in the kawa-no-ji style to using a baby bed.