Manami has loved soba ever since she was little.
As well as rice and kimonos, Tokamachi is famous for soba (buckwheat noodles), and there are several soba restaurants in the city serving delicious noodles to diners. One of the most famous is called Tamugi Soba and is run by the family of Tokamachi Elementary sixth-grader Manami Ajihara. Manami's grandfather Heihachiro Fukuzaki makes the noodles himself using buckwheat he grows in his own field and grinding the wheat himself with a stone mortar.
His noodles are so tasty that people come from far away - some from as far away as Tokyo - just to sample them. He even visits Tokamachi Elementary several times a year to teach the kids how to make soba noodles.
Manami helps out when the restaurant is busy.
Manami's grandfather, Heihachiro, visits the school several times a year to teach the kids how to make soba. About 100 local people help out with the kids' education like this.
"The buckwheat we grow here yields excellent seeds, making the noodles extra tasty. My family has been making soba for a
long time. I am the sixth generation of soba makers," explains Fukuzaki.
Manami likes her grandfather's noodles so much that she eats some almost every day.
One of her favorite dishes is tempura soba (noodles with seafood and vegetables
deep-fried in batter).
"When the restaurant is busy I help out with washing dishes and carrying things," says Manami as she tidies up some bowls ready for the next order of noodles.