A futon is an essential piece of furniture because it is so dynamic and flexible. It is good to lounge on and to just kick back. Then you can have a friend sleep over with minimal adjustment of other house furniture. (Hint: Try putting a thick velvet blanket on the futon as an under blanket...absolute heaven)

On the contrary, futons are somewhat hazardous to your health. They do not support good posture whatsoever! Any way that you try to sit in them, you either lounge (with your back as crooked as a question mark) OR sit completely upright and be uncomfortable as hell. Take you pick...spinal damage or unpleasantness.

Simple solution: When your futon is in the upright position, try putting a pillow behind the small of your back. Thus, straightening your back and preventing discomfort.

In Japan, traditionally, people slept on futons at night. Japanese futons vary greatly from American futons, despite sharing the same name.

The Japanese futons consist of three parts: the shikibuton, a sort of foldable mattress, the kakebuton, or comforter, and the makura, a pillow usually filled with red beans or buckwheat chaff.

One reason for the use of futons over beds in Japan is conservation of space. Each morning you fold up your futon and store it in a closet (oshiire). This allows a bedroom to be used during the day without a bed taking up floor space.

Many people claim Japanese futons are more comfortable than beds, contrary to the American futons which are notoriously uncomfortable. In Japan the futon is usually placed on top of the tatami mats (straw mats covering most floors in japan). This adds an extra layer of comfort. Having the hard floor below, instead of loose springs, is said to be very good for people with back problems.

Another benefit to futons in Japan is that they are easily hung from balconies and windows to air out. Japan is extremely humid, which means mildew and germs can spread easily without the proper precautions.
Imagine trying to hang your queen-sized mattress out the window to dry out. Ha!

I am a college student with back problems and not much living space. After all this research, Japanese futons are looking very appealing.

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