Japanese floor cushions have been used in Asian societies for centuries for traditional reasons and practical reasons. Traditional Japanese floor cushions actually have two pieces - the zabuton and the zafu. The zabuton is the larger cushion that goes on the floor and cushions your knees with a zafu cushion on top that is sat on. Floor cushions are used for not just dining but tea ceremonies, meditation and other traditional events.

In Japanese custom, the zabuton is used in different ways in their world of entertainment. In a sumo match, the zabuton is thrown at the ring after an upset. Rakugo is a form of verbal entertainment with a lone storyteller. The storyteller sits on a zabuton in one position while acting out a complicated comical story. Seiza, which can be translated to "proper sitting", is the Japanese term for the traditional formal way of sitting in Japan. Through Japan's early history, various ways of sitting were regarded as 'proper', such as sitting with one knee raised, sitting cross legged, or sitting to the side. Social circumstances, style of clothing, and where they sat determined their manner of sitting.

In the Muromachi period of Japanese architecture the floors were completely covered with tatami or straw mats. With this type of flooring, the ruling warrior class adopted the posture of seiza as the respectful way to sit. Around the turn of the 18th century, this manner of sitting was part of Japanese everyday life. Today, in Japan, it is uncommon to find rooms with the traditional tatami floors and consequently uncommon to find circumstances where you sit seiza. The use of Japanese floor pillows is still prevalent throughout modern Japan as many Japanese do still sit on the floor for meals, reading, and traditional ceremonies.


Most floor cushions are a three foot square and about 3 inches thick. They are amazingly durable with a life span of eight to twelve years even with daily use. The filling of this cushion is 90% cotton batting and 10% spun polyester which is the current traditional Japanese filling for these cushions. Japanese floor pillows can be exotic in material with decorative tassels or simple solid muslin. Their use and the décor of the room determine what type of cushion is needed.


Japanese floor pillows can be incorporated into our lives very easily and be just as multifunctional. These cushions can be used for meditation, exercise, and comfort in our homes. They can be stacked in a corner when not in use or even placed in a closet until needed making them perfect for smaller rooms. You can create a room for just meditation or yoga using an array of Japanese floor cushions placed in an attractive display in the room until needed. It could be a perfect place to begin your day or unwind after a long day. The cushions are perfect for a small space with limited seating when you have friends over for a movie night. Put a couple together for a quick pallet for a visiting child that needs a nap. Brightly colored cushions scattered around a home create a fun, relaxed atmosphere that says "Have a seat and relax" to any visitor. And if your home is decorated in traditional Japanese décor, a collection of zabuton is a necessity.


One of the best things is that you don't have to buy a zabuton. It is very simple to make your own Japanese floor cushion at a modest cost. A zabuton can be made in four or five steps depending on how ornate you want to make it. This allows you to choose the fabric, design, trimmings and even size of the cushion. Common sense would tell you to select materials that can endure daily use and are comfortable to the user. It is important to use the proper filling as mentioned before to provide the best appearance and comfort.

Zabuton and zalus can be purchased at retailers ranging from the department store to furniture stores to specialty stores. Often they are referred to as meditation pillows or cushions. Prices can range from $30 up to $100 depending on the materials used in its manufacture and the appearance of the cushion. Many of the floor cushions are simple, one color pillows. The novelty pillows can be found with the likeness of a teen celebrity imprinted on the face of the pillow. They are easy to find at stores like Target and Wal-Mart in the home furnishing sections. There are hundreds of suppliers of traditional Japanese furnishings in the online stores available to shoppers any time of the day or night.

So whether it is for decoration or traditional use, a Japanese floor cushion is easy to find with a wide variety of options in appearance and price.