Here is another foreign word that has become commonplace in the English language.  ‘Futon’ was originally a Japanese word.  I love these little ‘exchanges of nations’ that point to a wider acceptance of differing cultures, and increasingly proves the unity  evolving worldwide.  Checkout the ‘discussion’ tag the top.  It leads to the discussions regarding this word, and the differing opinions on this piece of furniture.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about a Japanese mattress. For research bias, see FUTON bias.

A futon in Japan

A futon in the U.S.

A futon (布団, futon?) is a type of mattress that makes up a Japanese bed. They are sold in Japan at specialty stores called futon-ya as well as at department stores.

Japanese futons are flat, about 5 cm (2 in) thick with a fabric exterior stuffed with cotton or synthetic batting. 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 (towelket), and pillow (makura), generally filled with beans, buckwheat chaff or plastic beads. Such sets can be purchased for under 10,000 yen (US$90 as of 2005).

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 only loosely based on the Japanese original, with several major differences. They are often placed on a configurable frame for dual use as a bed and a couch, but are not intended to be stored away during the day. They are usually filled with foam as well as batting, often in several layers, and are almost always 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; in fact, in the United States, "futon" often refers to the frame, not the mattress. Most Japanese people would not recognize a Western-style "futon" as a futon.

There is, however, a growing market in Japan for high quality bedding made in the Western style. While still not traditional futons, they lack the springs and synthetic casings of Western mattresses and tend to be constructed primarily out of cotton. Additionally, these alternative futons tend to be hand-made. Quite often these futons are marketed as "earth friendly," especially since they do not contain the chemicals with which some conventional bedding is manufactured.

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