Fuchu: How To Correctly Pour A Beer And Have A Safe Childbirth

FUCHU: How to correctly pour a beer and have a safe childbirthPlace a dry glass in your left palm and raise your right hand, the one you’re holding the can with, as high as possible. From there and all at once, pour the contents into the glass until it’s half full. It will seriously foam. Wait. Wait a bit more. When the foam has stabilized, tilt your glass and pour the beer down the side of the glass.

Thirty percent head and 70 percent beer is the golden ratio. I learned the “correct” way to pour beer (aka the Suntory method) the other day when I joined a Suntory Beer Musashino factory tour. I’d been eyeballing the factory from the Chuo Expressway for decades, and I finally went.

Suntory set up this plant in 1963 because of the quality of the spring water in Musashino. The tour consisted of tantalizing the five senses by having us see the beer-making process, feel malt in our hands, smell hops, listen to bubbling sounds from a tank, and at the end of the tour, savor three types of beer.

I wondered about the possessive apostrophe on Suntory’s flagship Pilsner beer, The Premium Malt’s, and asked about it but no one could give me an answer. While the staff “looked into it,” I went to the gift shop and picked up some New Year edition canned beer with a delightful design, and then a shiny wrapper with “Tarukun” printed on it caught my eye.

It was salmon, cheese and bacon smoked with old whiskey barrels. How perfect--that closes the circle! I waited a while, but no answer seemed to be forthcoming regarding the apostrophe, so I left it at that. The beer is delish, and that’s all I really needed to know.

Fuchu conjures up images of the Japanese DMV, prison, big trees, Koshu Kaido Avenue, Nokodai (Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology) and boat and horse racing.

And, Okunitamajinja shrine, which was built in 111 A.D. On my recent visit, I heard the sound of flutes and "khakkhara" (a staff with metal rings attached to the top) bells and turned around to witness a wedding procession. How auspicious! I had always associated the khakkhara with Buddhism and not Shinto, and then I remembered that they are “kinda mixed.”

I get a bit carried away sometimes and found myself counting the rings on the staff. There were six--the Six Perfections! Sorry, readers, you can just gloss over this part.

The bride in white was followed by a man who carried a red umbrella over her. Red is believed to ward off evil spirits. The shrine is famous for the Kurayami Matsuri darkness festival but on this day, it was filled with light. Yin and yang! These are opposite forces that form a whole.

Which reminds me of a beautiful "magatama" necklace that I saw at Furusato Fuchu Rekishi Kan. People have inhabited this area for a long time, and archeological excavations have found lots of ancient jewelry and tools.

Two magatama together make yin and yang, together as one. Miyanomejinja shrine, which is one of the seven smaller subsidiary shrines, is known for ladles with a hole in them. Women who want a smooth childbirth buy one and pray for the baby to come out of the hole, water and all, effortlessly. What an image!

Surreal sculptures of boys, frogs and lotus designed by Yabuuchi Satoshi of Nara Prefecture’s Sento-kun fame, can be found at Dodo Hiroba Park. People seem to either love or hate his works. I think it’s an acquired taste.

Today we live in peaceful times. The Shiraito Entaigo bunker is a reminder that this place was a big military-industrial center during World War II. Fuchu, with its old and recent history, is a fascinating place.