What to buy:
Nagano can be considered a fruits paradise, and various fruits can be enjoyed during different times of the year:
Tsugaru Apples - Aug-Sep
Sensyu Apples - Oct
Fuji Apples - Nov-Dec
Kyohou Grapes - Sep-Oct
Shinano-purple Grapes - Sep
Kawanakajima-hakutou Peaches - Aug-Sep
Nashi Kousui Pears - Aug-Sep
Nashi Nansui Pears - Oct
(strawberry picking is available from Jan-Jun)
During our stay at the ryokan, the owner offered us Fuji apples (free-of-charge) and they were the sweetest, juiciest apples we've ever eaten (really!)
What to pay: We saw the apples being sold at shops in the train stations and cities - one fruit costs about 150 - 200+ Yen.
This shop has been selling this condiment outside the Zenkoji Gate for 270 years. Besides this shop, you can also buy it from other shops located on the Zenkoji Omotesando.
What to buy: Shichimi Togarashi is a special type of Japanese condiment. Translated into English, it means "seven-flavour chili pepper", and it is actually a mixture of 7 types of spices (including chili peppers, Japanese peppers and sesame). It is used to bring out the flavour of soba noodles, and it is used by sprinkling it in the soba dipping sauce.
It costs 360 Yen each. After opening, it must be kept in the refrigerator. We bought one home to try and I sprinkled some into my bowl of instant-noodle... very spicy and good.
What to pay: 360 Yen
There are a few souvenir shops near Hakuba train station. We visited these shops while waiting for our transport to pick us up at the station. There is a MacDonald's at the station.
What to buy: Hakuba/Nagano cakes and pasteries, T-shirts etc.
I bought this Hello Kitty Mug at the souvenir shop in the Shiga Lake Hotel where I stayed. It shows Hello Kitty skiing, basically everywhere you go in Japan, you can buy Hello Kitty doing anything...even wearing sumo gear!
What to pay: About US$7-8
What to buy: In Nagano you should buy Soba, Apples and Miso Ice-cream. There are probably other products that the region is well-known for but this is all I can think of right now. Some of you may know that the many cities and regions of Japan are known for certain things and it is seen to be curious if you don't eat or buy the things from the region you are visiting.