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Futon bedding is any item that is intended to cover or be used with a futon-style bed. Bedding is sometimes a term used to refer to such things as futon mattresses or futon frames, but it is used more often for additional items such as futon pillows, pillowcases, and blankets. These items may be interchangeable with normal bedding intended for a standard mattress or may be specially designed for use with a futon mattress.
Many furniture stores offer western style futons, and traditional Japanese futon bedding can often be purchased at specialty Asian stores. There are a wide variety of futon bedding styles around; it is even possible to sew futon bedding at home if something suitable cannot be found.
Traditional Japanese futon bedding usually consists of at least a thick bottom mattress and a quilted cover. These items typically are soft and flexible enough to be folded and stored during the day, then set up for sleeping at night. A set purchased in Japan may include additional items, such as a lighter blanket for summer or a pillow. Like other kinds of bedding, futons also come in a variety of sizes and materials.
Western futon bedding is slightly different in that the mattress usually is meant to sit on a frame as a couch during the day, rather than getting folded or put away. This means that the bedding and covers intended to go with a western futon are often coordinated to match other items in the room and to look normal as a couch. These futons often have heavy-duty covers, and some people also leave the comforter that goes with the futon wrapped around the mattress when setting up the couch. This makes it easy to set up the bed at night.
Any comforter or pillow can be used with a futon mattress, but the cover that wraps around the mattress itself is often slightly more difficult to replace, but usually washable. The cover slips onto the mattress like a very large pillow case then buttons or zips shut. This allows the cover to absorb most of the dirt and prolong the life of the futon. Covers do eventually get damaged, though — often long before the futon has met its end. For extra protection and comfort, some people put bed sheets over the cover itself.
The best futon bedding is comfortable enough to be used at night as a bed, but sturdy enough to fulfill its other functions. It must be flexible enough to fold without distorting the mattress and creating uncomfortable creases. Selecting covers, blankets, and pillows for the futon is largely a matter of personal preference, but these should also be chosen keeping in mind the dual life of the futon.
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