Wasn't I just saying how hot it is in Japan? Well it has drastically cooled off and I've had to get out long sleeves and pull out the winter blankets.
Quilting Rush asked me a question. "Why don't Japanese guests sleep in between the top and bottom sheets on the bed? Is the bedding different in Japan? They always sleep between the blanket and the top sheet, not in between the sheets."
This is true. I haven't been in too many Japanese hotels lately and I assume that the bedding there includes top and bottom sheets, but it in the home most people only use a bottom sheet. At least in my family that's all we use and I'm assuming that's true in other families.
For one, the Japanese futon is laid out and taken up every day so fiddling with another sheet is a lot of bother. In any case, the sheets that one does buy for futon are usually pocket like things that the whole heavy futon mat that you sleep on can be fitted into. It is a very tight fit and zips up so that the futon doesn't move around inside it. There is another similar pocket like sheet that the top quilt/comforter (usually heavy cotton batting or feathers) can slip into also. This is a more relaxed fit and you sort of have to tie down the corners of the comforter or else it will get tangled in the covering sheet.
Even so, not many people just sleep with just the top comforter. Usually there is a blanket between the two parts of the futon and Japan has wonderful blankets! I once took one to my mother and my sister-in-law pounced on it and asked me to send her one and then her mother felt it and asked me to send her one, and her friend wanted me to bring her one! Blankets are often two ply and are made of a silky fur-like plush "fabric" . They are soooo soft! I cannot imagine not wanting to just luxuriate in the warm "fur"! So, why use a sheet and deny yourself!
Of course in the summer it is way too hot to use the blanket but there is also a very Japanese invention called a "towelkette". This didn't go over quite so well when I took one as a present to the States. Too heavy maybe? A towelkette is a very large, heavy towel, much larger than a beach towel and heavier, and it serves to absorb the sweat and dampness that accompanies the hot, muggy, summer Japanese nights.
How does all this get washed? Well, the futon covers and the towelkette can be washed normally. The blankets are a little more tricky, they are so big and bulky. I take mine down to the laundromat and wash them in a big washer there about once a year. At any rate, Japanese bedding, the bottom futon, the blankets, the top comforter and everything, is put out in the sun to air whenever the weather is nice and this fluffs up and sterilizes the bedding. (I think I wrote about this once before...)
Since I'm talking about bedding again, I'll mention that Tetsu absolutely has to use a pillow made of buckwheat husks! It makes for a very hard crunchy sounding pillow which I shun completely! Give me a feather pillow any day!
I'm sorry about these pictures. I was hoping I could give you a feel of what the plush blankets look like. Sort of abstract isn't it?