Difference Between Chinese and Japanese Abacus

The art of abacus usage, while fulfilling, is an enigmatic expedition fraught with hurdles. Abacuses are ancient calculating contraptions that have been used for eons to perform intricate mathematical calculations. However, there are different versions of abacuses utilized across the world. In this article, we shall deliberate on the disparities between the Chinese and Japanese abacuses, as well as their exclusive characteristics

Chinese Abacus

The suanpan, commonly referred to as the Chinese abacus, is the most widely utilized abacus worldwide. It has been in use in China for over 2,000 years and is still employed to date. The Chinese abacus has a dual-tiered structure, with each deck composed of five beads on the lower tier and two beads on the upper tier. The upper tier has a solitary bead that represents five, while the lower tier has four beads that represent a single unit each. Abacus manipulation involves moving the beads up and down to execute mathematical calculations.

Difference Between Chinese and Japanese Abacus

Japanese Abacus

The soroban, also known as the Japanese abacus, is a variation of the Chinese abacus. The soroban comprises a sole deck with five beads on each rod. The top bead stands for five, while the four bottom beads each represent one unit. Unlike the Chinese abacus, the soroban has an added bead called a go-dama, positioned at the center of the abacus. The go-dama is used as a decimal point for more intricate calculations.

Japanese Abacus

Differences between Chinese and Japanese Abacus

Although the Chinese and Japanese abacuses share numerous similarities, they also exhibit noticeable differences. Here are some of the primary distinctions between the two:



The composition of the Chinese and Japanese abacuses is diverse. The Chinese abacus has two tiers, while the Japanese abacus has one tier. The Chinese abacus has four beads on the lower tier and one on the upper tier, while the Japanese abacus has five beads on each rod.


Both types of abacus are utilized for mathematical computations. Nonetheless, the Japanese abacus has a unique characteristic; the go-dama, used as a decimal point to perform more intricate calculations.

Read more "Think Quickly and Calculate Quicker: Mental Arithmetic Skills Hacks"

Cultural Significance

The Chinese and Japanese abacuses hold different cultural significances. In China, the suanpan is a symbol of education and is taught in schools. In Japan, the soroban is part of the curriculum taught to children and is also utilized in competitions.

Benefits of Abacus Learning

Learning to use the abacus has numerous advantages, including:

Improves Mental Math Skills

Abacus usage is instrumental in enhancing mental math proficiency, irrespective of age. The abacus aids in developing the mind's capacity to visualize numbers, leading to quicker and more accurate mental computations.

Enhances Concentration

Employing the abacus necessitates a high degree of concentration and focus, which can translate into improvements in other aspects of life requiring the same traits.

Boosts Confidence

Learning the abacus can be an arduous yet satisfying journey. As one progresses, there is a palpable increase in self-esteem and confidence.


In conclusion, the Chinese and Japanese abacuses are both unique and captivating calculating devices. While they share a plethora of similarities, they also exhibit marked disparities in composition and functionality. Acquiring the skills to use an abacus presents numerous advantages, such as enhanced mental math proficiency, increased concentration, and heightened confidence. We trust that this article has furnished readers with valuable insights into the differences between the two abacuses and their cultural importance, inspiring them to explore abacus usage.

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