Tuesday, September 04, 2007


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?


keryn said...

I had a buckwheat pillow for years and years, it was the only thing that stopped my neck aching. I would wake up every morning with a migraine if I didn't use it. Alas, it disintegrated finally, more like a buckwheat dust pillow and I had to throw it away. If I ever see another one I will buy it in a flash.

anne bebbington said...

Don't like the sound of that buckwheat husk pillow - I'd go with the feather one too

The Calico Cat said...

We don't use a top sheet either... I have on occasion (out of guilt) tried to use it as a fitted sheet on the mattress, but I gave up on that... Maybe I will use it for a quilt back... (They are too densly woven for longarmers, but If I ever get compitent on my DSM...)

dee said...

I have used a buckwheat pillow for 20 years. Wouldn't sleep on anything else. I got it for my neck & back problems. No problems since. When I see them, I buy them by the case 6 at a time under the brand Sobakowa. Martha Stewart once listed a place in San Francisco where you could buy the Soba hulls by the 50lb bag.The family made fun of my "crunchy" pillow but somehow they keep vanishing. They are much smaller than a standard pillow-sort of baby pillow-so I make pretty cotton cases for them.
We don't use top sheets either-we each have seasonal quilts-no fighting over covers or too hot or cold. Very peaceful.

Shelina said...

We didn't use top sheets in Africa either. I don't use them here as a result, although when I have a guest I try to either add one or ask the guest.
If you take a shower before you go to sleep, the blanket isn't going to get very dirty anyway.
I have lots of top sheets in my closet that hardly get any use.

Laurie Ann said...

Wow, I loved your post and find it fascinating how many folks don't use a top sheet. We shower in the morning and so it is nice to keep the blankets cleaner. But, very interesting!!! I love hearing how different cultures are everywhere. I can understand wanting to snuggle right up to those soft blankets. I'll have to get one if I ever go to Japan, or if my girls come back to visit some time!

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Those furry, soft blankets look very luxurious indeed. We use top sheets and shower in the morning here, just like Laurie Ann! If I ever go to Japan I will certainly look for one of those blankets!

Holly said...

The futons we slept on were just cheap foam. They folded in thirds. Probaby not considered a true futon except in shape - I don't know. We had blankets like those you described though. We called them "mink" blankets although of course they were not mink. Felt that soft and snuggly. We brought the futons back with us and the dog chewed up the last one within the last 10 years. They were great for extra company.

atet said...

Oooh...those blankets look lovley. Reminds me, it's almost time to take out my sheep skin. Similar to the blankets, you sleep on top of it -- warm, cozy, breaths, and oh so soft!