The other day we lined up for standing-room tickets to see the grand sumo tournament here in Osaka. It must have been 10 years since I had attended a tournament — it only comes to Osaka once a year.

Back in the days when I first became a sumo watcher, I had neither a television nor a bath in my very affordable 4 1/2-mat room tucked behind the souvenir stalls in front of Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, at the northern head of the riverside Philosophers Walk in Kyoto. A student at the time, I was an ardent early follower of the now retired yokozuna (and fellow American) Akebono.

So in order to catch each one of the 15 days of a tournament, friends and I would assemble at the neighborhood bath, where we would sit in various stages of undress with our eyes glued to the TV hanging suspended from the changing-room ceiling. Every day, from 4 until 6 o'clock, we made gentlemen's bets as to who would win the tournament and commented on our favorite wrestler of the day.