Monday, August 28, 2006

Sitting, Sleeping and Storing Pretty

When I was a kid, I hated going camping with my parents. The primary reason for this was having to sleep on the ground in a sleeping bag. Given that the standard futon is little better than a good sleeping bag and tatami doesn't feel much softer than a good bed of grass, I wasn't very fond of sleeping on the floor in Japan either.

Initially, my husband and I dealt with this with an air mattress but waking up in the middle of the night on the floor for a week or so convinced us purchasing a real bed was in order. We visited the local Salvation Army and picked up a double bed for about 12,000 yen that served us for quite awhile. Eventually, we graduated to a real queen-size bed from the Simmons Gallery and it has since taken up most of our 6-mat bedroom.

For those who are living alone though, I'd strongly recommend this nifty alternative, particularly if you're planning on staying more than a year and wouldn't mind investing about 18,000-40,000 yen on a nice piece of furniture. About 12 years ago, we bought the sofa pictured above. It has served us extremely well particularly as a second bed for guests or for my husband or I on nights when one of us is unable to sleep with the other for health reasons.

Unlike most sofa beds that you open up and pull out, this one slides and falls down flat so that the front and back join together seamlessly to make a platform you can sleep on (pictured below).

So, there's no danger of waking up hunched over like Elaine on Seinfeld because a bar was digging into your back. What's more, it's a snap to put away and set up. You pick up the base, the back slides down then you push the base forward until it clicks then lower it down. The same in reverse puts it away.

This being Japan though, there is an added bonus to using this sort of sofa bed. The base doubles as a very large storage area (pictured below).

If you live in a small apartment with a 6-mat room, small kicthen and bath, this is an incredibly smooth and comfortable way to allow it to double as a living room and bedroom. You can also use the space underneath for storing bedclothes or your own clothes.

We bought ours at Odakyu department store for about 35,000 yen but less elaborate but similarly functional sofa beds can be bought for 18,000 yen online from

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