Header image of a close-up of a soroban

Practicing the soroban

You have got a soroban (or an abacus) and you wish to improve your skills. You've already found online generators of random numbers that help you practice (for example [3] or [4]). Maybe, you've even made one for yourself.

A generator of exercises based on exam template

The 2 books of Kojima and Cumin-Hossenlopp mention the soroban examination [6] [7] taking place in Japan for each grade, called kyu. They show examples of these examination and it's a good exercise to do these to practice and improve your soroban abilities.

So, I modified the little generator I already made for me to produce pdf files of these examination exercises and turn it into this website. You'll find below screenshots of how such documents look like. To see a real example, just go and try the generator.

You can subscribe to receive an exercise each day or week in your mailbox. You can also get an exam in HTML format.

Click on image to get a full size view
A preview of Cumin 5th kyu exercise

The basics

If you don't know yet how to read a number on the soroban, you can go and learn to do that on our basics page.

Then, you can learn how to do the 4 basic operations (interactively) by trying our virtual soroban, with step by step example of each operation.

If you need a more formal approach in the form of lessons, try our basics page, or [1] and [2].

Learning books

I have learned to use the soroban with the help of the very good book "Le boulier, Initiation" Le boulier's cover icon [5] by Jean Cumin and Jean Hossenlopp (published by Chiron in french). I have also read "The Japanese abacus, Its use and theory" The Japanese Abacus'cover icon, the book of Takashi Kojima.

Another recommended reading is the "Soroban" book produced and published by The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and The League of Japan Abacus Association. You can download it freely here [8]. It has been specially made by Japanese for foreigners that want to learn the soroban.