Sole yokozuna Terunofuji wrapped up the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament with a 14-1 record Sunday by beating ozeki Takakeisho in the final bout of the 15-day meet.
The 31-year-old grand champion had clinched his eighth Emperor's Cup by beating sekiwake Kiribayama a day earlier at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan after coming into the tournament under an injury cloud.
Terunofuji underwent surgery on both knees last October and had missed all or part of the last four tournaments, but he dispelled concerns about his health with a dominant performance in his return to the raised ring.
His only blemish was a surprise loss to No. 6 maegashira Meisei (8-7) on Day 9.
"After the tournament started, I promised myself that I would do my best for all 15 days," said Terunofuji, who won his previous championship here a year ago. "Results aside, I wanted to make sure I stayed determined all the way until the end."
"I had the surgery because I wanted to start a new page. I wanted to come back as soon as possible and show everyone my sumo on the dohyo. So that was going through my mind every day."
The sport's only current ozeki, Takakeisho (8-7) did just enough to shake off demotion-threatened "kadoban" status at the tournament while coming off an injury-affected 3-4-8 record in March.
He made little headway with his opening charging against the Mongolian-born yokozuna, who seized on Takakeisho's subsequent pulling attempt to grab the ozeki and push him out.
A day after Terunofuji ended his bid for back-to-back championships, presumptive ozeki Kiribayama (11-4) suffered consecutive losses for the first time this tournament, at the hands of fellow Mongolian sekiwake Hoshoryu (11-4).
The nephew of retired Mongolian great Asashoryu won the battle of grappling technicians with an underarm throw, taking a 7-6 edge in their head-to-head rivalry.
Kiribayama's ascent to sumo's second-highest rank is set to be formalized after he surpassed the standard ozeki promotion benchmark of 33 wins over the course of three tournaments as a komusubi or sekiwake.
"I really treated every individual bout as important," Kiribayama said. "I was more nervous this tournament than usual. I told myself I just needed to stick to my brand of sumo."
Daieisho (10-5) reached the 10-win threshold by overwhelming fellow sekiwake Wakamotoharu.
The winner of a single Emperor's Cup flew out of the blocks to execute a frontal thrust down against Wakamotoharu, who took home his first Technique Prize after finishing 10-5 in his debut at the third-highest rank.
Former ozeki Asanoyama, returning to the top flight following his lengthy suspension for breaking coronavirus safety rules, finished 12-3.
Fighting as a No. 14, he had been in contention for the title until the penultimate day.