Ordinary gifts for his girlfriend had no appeal to an adventurer who crossed the international date line that serves as the U.S.-USSR border on the frozen Bering Strait.
"I just wanted to give a special present for my girlfriend - not like diamonds, something special," said 27-year-old Daigen Yanagida of Tokyo.Soviet officials turned him over to the United States on Tuesday after questioning him for 10 days. Two weeks ago, Yanagida flew from Nome, Alaska, to Little Diomede Island, the last U.S. outpost in the Bering Strait.
From there, he began the 35-mile northwest trek to the coastal city of Uelen in the Soviet Union.
Just three miles into the trip, he ran into a polar bear on the Soviet island of Big Diomede, who shambled through his tent, then went away.
Later, he reached a 20-foot stretch of open water and decided to turn back.
Soviet border guards spotted him from a lookout post on Big Diomede and detained him on suspicion of being a spy.
On Tuesday, the guards blindfolded Yanagida and led him to a waiting helicopter. He said he thought he was going to be shot.
The Soviets brought him to the U.S.-Soviet border between the two islands and gave him to Customs agent Charles Trainor.
Trainor was chagrined but not surprised. He said it was the second time Yanagida had attempted to make the crossing.
"I really want to discourage people from doing this and have them realize what an expense it is to both governments," Trainor said.
Back in Nome, a shaken Yanagida said that it would be his last such present to his girlfriend.
"I'm a very stupid man, I know that."