A ‘Futon’ Is Not the Same as a Futon

The other day, I got rid of the “futon” I’d used for sleeping in my home office. The word “futon” is derived from the Japanese futon. For the last few days, I’ve been bitten by ticks, and when I noticed that ticks had nested in the open seam of a “futon” I’d used for many years, I reluctantly decided to throw it out.

First of all, American-style “futons” do not resemble what Japanese people call a futon. Combined simple beds and sofas are sold as “futons.” The back of the sofa collapses, forming a bed.

As a product, it seems to be regarded as easy to use in small rooms like a student’s dorm. But as a simple bed, the sofa back part sticks out, so it’s not great for sleeping. That means that if “futons” are introduced to Americans as part of Japanese culture and as the item that Japanese people sleep on, Americans might regard us with pity. They might say that theJapanese people sure sleep on basic beds!

Afterward, I got a new “futon” — and there’s more to the story. Around Washington, D.C., where I live, an increase in ticks has been reported everywhere. This summer, the tick population on the East Cost of the U.S. erupted as they ate the eggs of the cicadas that emerged in huge numbers. The ticks kept biting people outside. Maybe my “futon” wasn’t to blame for my bug bites, but who knows now that I’ve thrown it away?

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