When asked at a post-tournament news conference on Monday if January’s title win felt different in any way from his eight previous victories, yokozuna Terunofuji replied, “A championship is a championship, so I’m just happy.”

After three straight missed tournaments, joy at returning to the mountaintop is an understandable emotion for the veteran grand champion, particularly when his poor physical condition had left the ability to participate in January’s meet in doubt right up to the last moment.

But while Terunofuji’s latest triumph may indeed not have been his best, or even among his most memorable, it has put the Isegahama stable man on the cusp of reaching rarified air.