The day brought more mist and drizzle, but Hakkoda was far from deserted. Parked cars lined the road over the pass, but these were not of hikers. The sansai (mountain vegetables) must be special, for the collectors were serious, dressed in full goretex waterproofs or rubber overalls worthy of a Tsukiji fisherman. Periodically during the climb, from the seemingly impenetrable bamboo grass on either side of the thick muddy path, came the sounds of Sunday morning NHK. Enka singing. And by the time I descended, the pickers were carrying bulging rucksacks filled with their hauls. The dog was happy too – an exceptionally muddy path to roll in, and snow to play with.