[foo-ton, fyoo-]

A is a flat, about thick mattress with a fabric exterior stuffed with cotton or synthetic batting that makes up a Japanese bed. They are sold in Japan at specialty stores called futon-ya as well as at department stores. They are often sold in sets which include the futon mattress (shikibuton), a comforter (kakebuton) or blanket (mōfu), a summer blanket resembling a large towel, and pillow (makura), generally filled with beans, buckwheat chaff or plastic beads. Futons are designed to be placed on tatami flooring, and are traditionally folded away and stored in a closet during the day to allow the tatami to breathe and to allow for flexibility in the use of the room. Futons must be aired in sunlight regularly, especially if not put away during the day. In addition, many Japanese people beat their futons regularly using a special tool, traditionally made from bamboo, resembling a Western carpet beater.

Western futons are based on the Japanese original, with several major differences. They are often placed on a configurable wood or metal frame for dual use as a bed and a chair or couch. Typically, the frame folds in the middle allowing the futon to be used as a couch and flattens to be used as a bed. They are usually filled with foam as well as batting, often in several layers, and they are often much thicker and larger than Japanese futons, resembling a traditional mattress in size. Western-style futons are a cheap alternative to a bed or other furniture, and are often sold in sets that include the mattress and frame. Futons normally feature a removeable and replaceable cover, giving them more versatility.

In Japanese, a zabuton (za, sitting + futon) is a cushion for sitting on. Zabuton are often used for sitting on tatami floors.

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