[za-boo-ton, -byoo-]
A zabuton (座布団) is a Japanese cushion for sitting. The kanji characters 座布団 literally translated are "seat-cloth-sphere". The zabuton is the everyday cushion found in homes and used for eating, watching television, reading at the kotatsu, and other daily activities. A typical square zabuton measures 50–70 cm (20–30 inches) on a side and is several centimeters thick when new.

Zabuton are found throughout Japan, and enter many aspects of the culture.

  • In Zen meditation, practitioners sit on zafu which is typically placed on top of a zabuton. The zabuton cushions the knees and ankle.
  • In sumo, members of the audience throw zabuton toward the ring after an upset.
  • In rakugo, performers are not allowed to rise from their zabuton for the duration of their skit.
  • In yose, notably on the long-running television show Shōten, comedians receive zabuton as a form of scoring.
  • In jidaigeki, according to a stereotype, the boss prisoner in a jail cell receives all the zabuton from his or her cell mates.

See also

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