I was unaware of this... i poored myself many a glass, we still have some left tho for tomorrow night, so I'll make a note of it.
It's a very old Japanese tradition, and since they invented sake, why not?
It forces more interaction between drinking partners, which makes the whole experience more sociable and enjoyable. If you really want to have fun with this, do it like the Japanese and never come out and say when you want more sake. Trying to drop hints on drunk people is usually worth a few laughs.
It provides a safety valve: your friends can cut you off if you get out of hand.
Better sake is always served chilled (reishu). Cheaper stuff gets warmed up (okan).
You might be able to find stuff from Hakutsuru. It's another lower-end brand (like Gekkeikan) with a bunch of brews to choose from, and I know the company exports stuff. If you ever see something called One-Cup Ozeki, run far far away . . . It's the bum wine of rice wine.
No idea if much of it gets exported, but here are some nicer brands to look for:
KUBOTA: This maker has a series of brews from Hyakuju at the low end to Senju, Hekiju, and Manju. The last one is exquisite but is hard to find even in Japan.
HAKKAIZAN: A very nice sake that goes well with most foods; great on its own too.
TAKASHIMIZU: Also good stuff, and there are a lot of types of sake under this mark; some of it might be exported.
Damn i shoulda tried that.. seeming we had a bottle of Japanese Plum Wine too (Fu-Ki, i believe it was called). That stuff was delicious... tasted like grape juice with a hint of alcohol, great to just sip on.
I hope you and your friends remembered the rule that you should never pour your own sake. You can only pour for others, never yourself. I shoulda mentioned that earlier.
Even Japanese people give up on not pouring for themselves, especially in social settings. After a while it just gets tedious or too slow. And I've never seen a Japanese person cut another one off if it wasn't about driving. Folks at my enkais always feed the drunkard more more more. They tried to send me comatose after feeding me about 750ml of shochu.
And you don't drop subtle hints either. If you want liquor you go and pour for someone else, and they'll fill your glass.