What is a Soroban/Abacus?

A Soroban/Abacus is the Japanese traditional abacus. It is a calculating tool which has 5 beads in each column. Each bead has its own value, such as one, five, ten, and so on. A Soroban/Abacus is one of the most effective educational tool to boost the children’s calculation skills and number sense.

What are the main advantages of learning a Soroban/Abacus?

One of the major advantages, is that practicing the Soroban/Abacus develops the ability of mental calculation. Soroban/Abacus learners are able to visualize the Soroban/Abacus beads clearly when doing the mental calculation.

What kind of materials are used to make a Soroban/Abacus?

A Soroban/Abacus is traditionally made of wood. Although some Soroban/Abacuss priced under ¥2,000 have plastic parts, most of the Sorobans/Abacuses priced more than ¥3,000 have wooden beads.

There are Sorobans/Abacuses priced between ¥3,000 and ¥5,000. But, what’s the big difference between them?

In general, the price is higher when the Soroban’s quality is better. For example, the wood is carefully chosen by a Soroban/Abacus craftsman, and more manufacturing processes are needed. Also, rigid specifications are adhered to in their manufacture.

There are 23-digit Soroban/Abacus and 27-digit Soroban/Abacus. Which one should I choose?

A traditional Soroban/Abacus has either 23-digit or 27-digit. The majority of Soroban/Abacus learners still choose to have these digits nowadays. On the other hand, there are also 15-digit or 17-digit ones for those who prefer to own smaller.
I would like to buy a Soroban/Abacus for a souvenir. Do you have one ?
A. Each Soroban/Abacus is assembled by a specialy trained craftsman. So, the Soroban/Abacus is also one of the Japanese craft products. The Soroban/Abacus is good for interior display, too. We can provide you with a reasonably priced Soroban/Abacus with instruction in English, French, German, Spanish, and Esperanto. We also have some nice postcards showing the Soroban/Abacus in use taken from ancient woodblock prints.

I am interested in learning a Soroban/Abacus. Do you have any books written in English or some other languages?

We have several books written in English that explains how to use a Soroban/Abacus.

I am a left-handed, and would like to operate a Soroban/Abacus with my left fingers. Is this possible?

There is no problem. We suggest that you use your dominant hand.

What age do you recommend to start learning the Soroban/Abacus?

In general, it would be better if a child is able to count the numbers one to ten, before learning the Soroban/Abacus. At first, we recommend you use a “Slavonic Abacus” which has one hundred beads. It is an excellent abacus for children to acquire the concept of numbers.

What kind of Soroban/Abacus qualification should I get to become a Soroban/Abacus teacher? Is there any certification to be able to teach the Soroban/Abacus?

There is no formal certification to be a Soroban/Abacus teacher. However, you should master a certain level of Soroban/Abacus calculation skill before you try to teach others. We hold a special program, called the “Soroban/Abacus Teacher’s Program,” for those who would like to be a Soroban/Abacus teacher. In this program, you are able to learn how to teach the Soroban/Abacus and also how to develop Anzan, mental calculation where you learn to visualize the Soroban/Abacus beads.

How do you calculate 55-88 with Soroban/Abacus?

Suppose you have 155 instead of 55, you are able to take away 88 from 155. So, 155-88=67. Now, you need to pay back 100 because you added 100 to 55. In order to make 67 to 100, you have to add 33.
So, the answer is “-33.”

What should I do to keep my Soroban/Abacus in a good condition?

A Soroban/Abacus is made of wood. So, it should be kept dry. After using your Soroban/Abacus, it would be better to wipe it with a piece of soft cloth. Like other wooden products, your Soroban/Abacus is going to last for many years of use.

Is there a good way or is there a tool to teach mental calculation?

It might be hard for some beginners to visualize Soroban/Abacus beads when they are trying to do mental calculation. So, we have developed a tool, called a “Turbo Soroban/Abacus,” to practice mental calculation effectively. This tool helps you to visualize the beads easier than ever before.

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