Perhaps the most daunting task when traveling is picking the right souvenir for your coworkers and family.

I remember every time when I am about to head back to Taiwan, I would get a special phone call from my dad, ordering what his coworkers want from America. For a week I be like a treasure hunter, sniffing around San Francisco to fulfill the requests. If people like what I picked for them, it does make me feel a little bit happy. (Okay, may be not just a little, but more like winning  the trophy for knowing what your coworkers and friends like)

Picking the right souvenirs from Japan can be easy and can be hard too. If you have unlimited supply of bills, it is very very easy to shop around and find extravagant items like the $300 dollar lacquer bowl.  the $500 Kimono, the $100 dollar umbrellas…..

But if you are on a budget and still want to woo your boss and coworkers, then not only research is needed, but the souvenir needs a “wow” or  “awwww” factor.

Walking around the street of Nakamachi Dori street, my eyes were glued to the display windows of the shops, wondering if I will find food souvenirs to take home. Most of the shops here sells horse meat (which I have not tried yet), hand made furniture, and pottery. Just as I was about to give up and head back to the station to buy food souvenirs from the train station, I saw a big shop with customers coming in and out.

It is not the shop’s name that caught my eye, but rather the small word, “菓子” on the side of the banner. “菓子” usually means pastry, and usually those shops sells awfully cute and delicious snacks.

See the rice crackers? The one on the right has the rice crackers wrapped like small dolls!! “Awwww” factor scored!

Another “Awww Factor” found.! The little sugar candies are great for children! I remember I use to eat those by a handful at a time =D

They also sell walnuts or dried fruits. Those tend to be higher in price, but always good to give to people at your the work place. Ummm, this will be a small “wow factor” for me….because of the price. ($10 USD for a small box of walnuts..eek)

I like walnuts and dried fruit, but my lunch money on a small box of walnuts or dried fruits….I hesitated.

Some things are priceless though, and not everyone will be here with you to enjoy those experience…

For example if you buy a cake here you can eat in the shop while looking out to the yard with trees and stone decoration. (Above)

Or chatting with people working at the store about the odd decorations you saw… 

And going to the little museum at the back yard with displays of tools they used to make Japanese pastry, for free ~

Then the food souvenir becomes a little ambassador, letting people know where you been, the food you ate, and interesting things you may find at the travel destination. It ties in people who missed out on your adventure…

All right, I gave up, I bought the box of walnuts and sugared orange skins.

(In the end I just persuaded myself to buy the souvenirs…..) 

Can you resist from buying souvenir for friends, family and coworkers when traveling? I don’t think I can…

Nakamachi Dori Street in Matsumoto City of Nagano can be found:

From Matsumoto Station, keep walking straight on Agatanomori Street. Turn left on Honmachi Street, then after 2 blocks, Nakamachi Street will be on your right!