Not ready to call it a night after finishing our kaiseki -- traditional multi-course meal-- at the ryokan we were staying at, we snuggled into a cozy loveseat at the shwanky lounge in the Fujiya hotel. We watched snowflakes flutter outside through the window, where gaslamps flickered in a quaint garden. Warm inside, I sipped bubbly while my partner sampled the Japanese scotch tasting that came with delicious chocolates. A perfect end to our day of exploring Zenkoji and trying to figure out how to eat soba, the buckwheat noodles Nagano is known for. The following day we hiked in Togakushi, in search of a canopy of ancient cedars. A memorable weekend.