What is it about the Shikibuton that makes it special?

by Alex Santander October 01, 2015

Most of us in the Western part of the world have only ever slept on a traditional mattress. The often used box-spring and mattress set we almost all grew up with has alternatives. In the Eastern part of world they take a much different approach to sleeping, thinking of it on a more spiritual level, and even a healing and alignment of the body.

The thing about our mattresses is that many of them are simply too soft, not supporting our bodies properly while we sleep. The Eastern part of the world developed their own, simpler style of beds that have the ability to actually re-shape your back. They use a low to the ground platform and place a thinner, denser mattress on top. This mattress is quite firm compared to most any mattress you would find in a furniture store in the United States.

Katsuzo Nishi

A former Japanese health pioneer Katsuzo Nishi published a book in 1927 that detailed a system of practices which included sleeping on a hard surface, such as a board, to help with spinal alignment and circulation. His theories were based on the simple fact that are bi-pedal creatures. As bipedal creatures we spend 8-10 hours a day of our time upright, which over time results in structural strains on the bone structure, digestion issues, and even damage to our spines. Nishi pioneered a unique exercise known as the goldfish movement style spinal rectification exercise and the Nishi-Shiki health fortifying technique. This was a lateral vibration exercise known as the “Haifuko Undo”.


In addition to his theories about how our upright daily activity affected our bodies he refuted the medical claims being made by many doctors in his time that the blood circulation system was fueled entirely by the heart. He concluded in fact that the capillaries themselves were providing the true driving force of the circulatory system. The idea behind him suggesting the use of flat, fairly rigid sleeping platform was to ensure the vertebrae remained in the ideal position to re-align the back after a long day of standing, walking, and in some cases even running. These activities, he believed, were taking a toll on the body on anyone not focusing on the importance of flat surface sleeping and making a conscious effort to re-align not only the back, but the body as well. Nishi believed that the big fluffy mattresses much of the world were sleeping on simply did not provide enough resistance to keep us in alignment, optimize our circulation, and even our breathing.

The Japanese Futon Shikibuton

A traditional Japanese Futon Shikibuton goes under the futon. Kakebuton, which are the comforters that keep you warm at night, and of course makura, which is just what they call pillows. Generally Shikibutons are stuffed with cotton batting and wrapped in shikifu, or what most of us would refer to as sheets. Due the light-weight and portable nature of the Japanese futon they would generally be kept in the a special closet during the day and only brought out for sleeping. This allowed for quite a bit more space in the living quarters during the daytime hours when it would be needed the most. Japanese homes were traditionally small structures containing only a few rooms. That being the case not having to dedicate one entire room just to sleep in was a real bonus.


Make an informed decision and take control of your sleep

Given all of the information presented in this blog post we feel confident in letting you draw your own conclusions regarding the Eastern style of sleep and the integration of a platform style bed into your life. It is not going to be a perfect solution for everyone, but certainly would be a big improvement seen over a short period of time if a person would take the time to adjust to the Eastern method of sleep. We do have a large selection of Shikibutons to choose from made from a variety of materials. They can also be customized if needed. Our goal has always been to help our loyal customers get a better night’s sleep, which is one of the main reasons we stock multiple Shikibuton setups. A bed is a rather personal thing, it should be carefully selected with reason and purpose.



Alex Santander
Alex Santander


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