蒲団/布団(ふとん)【Futon】

Futons are mattresses and quilts that Japanese people traditionally use when they sleep. Futons are made of strong, tightly woven cloth and cotton stuffing. The Japanese have traditionally spread sets of futons (mattresses and quilts) directly upon tatami mats when they sleep. A set of Japanese bedding includes a mattress called a shikibuton, a sheet, a quilt called a kakebuton, and a pillow. Japanese people first spread out shikibutons when they get ready to sleep at night. The shikibutons serve in the same manner as mattresses do for Western-style beds. After that, sheets are put on the shikibutons and quilts are put on top of the sheets. Then people get in between the sheets and the quilts and go to sleep. People change their quilts and pillows when the seasons turn owing to the changes in temperature that come with the changes in seasons. People use the same mattresses throughout the year. They use thin quilts during the summer season, and thick ones during the chilly seasons. People also use blankets between their mattresses and quilts when it gets particularly cold. When it is too hot and sticky in the middle of summer to sleep easily, they cover themselves with thin sheets that are made of the same fabric that towels are. People also use rattan or rush pillows that feel cool in the summer. It is very effective to dry the bedding in the sun. This makes the bedding more comfortable to sleep in and also removes mites. Many Japanese are allergic or will become allergic to mites. Recently, electric futon-dryers for indoor use at home have become widespread throughout Japan.

蒲団は中に綿などを入れ、丈夫な布地で縫いくるんだ寝具です。日本人は、古くから畳の上に蒲団を敷いて寝ます。寝具には、敷き布団、掛け布団、敷布(シーツ)、枕などがあります。夜寝るときには、まず畳の上に敷き布団を広げて敷きます。敷き布団は、ベッドのマットレスに当たります。次に、敷き布団の上にシーツを掛け、掛け布団を掛けて眠ります。日本では季節によって温度差が大きく変わるため、掛け布団と枕は季節によって別のものを使います。掛け布団は、夏季には薄手のもの、寒い季節には厚手のものを用います。特に寒い季節には、さらに敷き布団と掛け布団の間に毛布を用います。これとは反対に、蒸し暑く寝苦しい真夏には掛け布団は使わず、タオルケットだけを掛けて眠ります。さらに頭も涼しくするために、籐やいぐさの夏用の枕を用います。蒲団の湿気を取り除き、寝心地を良くするために、蒲団を日光に当てて干します。これによって、多くの日本人にとってアレルギーの原因になりやすいダニも除去することができます。近年では、屋内用の蒲団乾燥器も多くの家庭で用いられています。

People only put the futons out when they sleep at night. In the daytime, when the futons are not in use, people fold the futons and store them in closets. This means that one room can be used as a bedroom, study, or living room at different times. Recently, however, Western-style beds and bedding have become popular in Japan, and younger people now tend to use Western-style beds and bedding rather than Japanese futons. Conventionally used cotton wadding is also being replaced by wool and feather wadding.

蒲団は、夜寝るときだけに敷き、昼間使わないときにはたたんで押し入れに収納します。このため、一つの部屋を寝室や居間等として多目的に使用することができます。しかし、近年では寝具に対する好みが変わり、若い世代ではベッドを好む人が多くなりました。同時に、蒲団の中に詰める素材も、従来の綿から羊毛や羽毛などの新素材に移行する傾向にあります。

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