Saturday 4 February 2012

The Futon Phenomenon

The first time a student felt dissatisfaction with his bedroom furniture was when he discovered, on getting lucky, that he was sleeping with another person on a single bed narrower than one single person and that a wet patch needed to be avoided. That situation remained the norm right up to the 1980s when one undergraduate suddenly decided that they wanted a lot more out of their bed. One of the conditions was that it should be a cheap bed by night, a sofa you can keep slipping off while you’re sitting on it during the day. The idea took off and the UK found itself the biggest importer of futons outside the Orient. And so it continues.
So perhaps now is a good time for the UK to export to Japan, in exchange, some of our culture that centres around our old futon-substitutes, our beds. (CLICK ON 'Read more' LINK, BELOW)

The ‘Futon and Breakfast’ could be adopted as a Japanese version of the cheaper end of the hotel market. And it would be a lot more flexible in its function than the English Bed and Breakfast. Guests wouldn’t necessarily have to stay overnight. They could just come for breakfast when the futon has been made up into a slippy off sofa (after the sleeping tenants have woken up, of course). In Japan, you would also be able to offer a special English custom treat: knock on the bedroom door and chime, ‘Happy Birthday, darling. No, don’t get up, I’ve brought you breakfast in futon…. before we make it up into a sofa, that is.’ And that’s the same partner we were attracted to in the first place because we fell for their ‘come-to-futon’ eyes. On the other hand, though, we could be first up in the morning, returning to our partner in the bedroom for a fierce rebuke: ‘You were last to come in last night. You left the door wide open. We could have been murdered in our futons!’

Although this lady is not Japanese, she nearly proves anyway that the
Japanese elderly and futons are a heady cocktail.

On the downside there is the problem of the odd cultural misunderstanding cropping up. Take that old chestnut where an elderly Japanese grandparent decides to go study in the UK. Alarm becomes terror when the family rings up his digs to discover from a fellow-student that he’s on his death futon. He was getting on, they fret. We should never have let him go. The family automatically buys tickets en bloc on the next outward flight to discover when they arrive that grandad’s mate was only stating the obvious after another student night out on the sake.

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