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Saturday, May 7, 2011

JAPAN LITE

Pillow for the fairy tale princess discovered


Special to The Japan Times

Breaking news: Pillow belonging to the princess of the tale "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen has been found.

I was hoping that this discovery would be reported by the Duchess of Cambridge upon her recent marriage to Prince William. But no, the future princess is keeping mum.

I had always thought it strange that, in the fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea" (1835), the test of a real princess focused on the mattress.

The story goes that because she was a real princess, she was so sensitive she could feel a pea placed under 20 mattresses and 20 featherbeds. Bravo, but what about the pillow? It is far more difficult to find a comfortable pillow than it is a comfortable mattress.

We've all heard of the famous athlete (there are many) who carries his or her own pillow while traveling so they can be assured a good night's rest. But you never hear of someone carrying their own mattress.

I figured that if a real princess is so sensitive she can feel a pea at the bottom of 20 mattresses and 20 featherbeds, then I want her pillow! I have been searching for the perfect princess pillow for over a year now.

Long gone are the days when I used to be able to sleep in a ditch — and occasionally did. I was even once able to sleep on a soba makura, that evil Japanese pillow filled with buckwheat husks. The height of the soba makura is perfect for sleeping on your side, but I kept waking up with boxed ears. These pillows press so hard on your ears, they deform them.

I have always thought pillows should be custom made to fit the distance of your shoulder between your head and arm so you have plenty of support when you lie on your side. Or how about a pillow that is perfect when you are lying on your back, and then is adjusted higher by a crank on the side of the bed when you want to sleep on your side.

While searching for the perfect pillow, one result is that I have amassed an enormous collection of pillows. I have every kind imaginable. I've even bought, in desperation, a pillow from a hardware store. Hey, you never know. But you do.

There seems to be a trend these days in the nicer hotels to put up to eight pillows on a queen-size bed. What are you supposed to do with all those pillows? You can't possibly sleep with that many. Perhaps the average guest these days has four heads.

If you lie on top of the bed without getting under the covers, it's as if you are sleeping with a whole family of pillows. I feel like a mother hen with my chicks gathered around me.

Some people say they are decorative pillows, not really meant to be used. Well, I think a bed with a big chocolate cake in the middle of it would be a more appreciated decoration than some non usable pillows. If people didn't want chocolate, you could decorate with cats instead. Cats look beautiful all curled up on a bed.

I was recently at a hotel in Australia that had a Pillow Menu. No, you couldn't eat the pillows, but you could try sleeping on a different kind of pillow each night: a neck-supporting pillow, a no-snoring pillow, a feather pillow, a synthetic pillow, etc. The menu included any kind of pillow imaginable, except the Japanese soba makura. No wonders there.

But through my research, I did finally find the pillow fit for a real princess.

The perfect princess pillow is a combination of two pillows, a firm bottom pillow and a special pillow on top of that. The pillow on top must be a feather pillow. The down feathers don't offer support, but provide comfort and movement while cradling the head.

From here, you can further adjust the top feather pillow according to your own level of comfort or princessship. The super soft eider down pillows, for example, are made from the down that the Eider duck plucks from herself to line her nest and cover her eggs. After the baby ducks hatch and leave the nest, the eider is collected for pillow fill.

If you look around, I'm sure you can even find eider down pillows in Japan, except the ducks here would be extra special: fed sushi and sake, and given an onsen to paddle around in rather than a pond. They'd get classical music piped in too and the mother ducks would probably get massages to help them produce more eider.

Now that you know what kind of pillow a real princess sleeps on, you can carry yours with you and sleep like a princess wherever you go.

You also know what to do with all those pillows they pile up on the beds in hotels: throw them on the floor.



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