With sake as with beer, pouring for others is a common custom in Japan that takes a bit of getting used to but has a wonderful charm and appeal once ingrained. Small cups (called ochoko
) [IMG]esake.com/handsboth2.jpg[/IMG]and a larger serving flask or vessel (tokkuri
) allow for frequent refill opportunities, each of which is a miniritual of social bonding. In formal situations, the tokkuri is held with two hands when pouring. Likewise , the person receiving should lift his or her glass off the table, holding it with one hand and supporting it with the other.[IMG]esake.com/arrow_top.jpg[/IMG]
The more formal the situation the more such etiquette is observed. Even in informal situations, pouring sake for one's table companions is the norm, although pouring and receiving parties generally revert to the more natural one-hand grip. Among close friends, after the first round or so, all pouring rituals are often abandoned for convenience. Pouring for yourself is known as tejaku.
Your companions may feel an uncontrollable urge to refill your cup when it is empty. Resisting their entreaties for more is generally futile, so the best approach is to allow your cup to be filled and then take tiny, tiny sips so that it never goes dry.