Soroban, or Japanese Abacus

This wooden instrument has an open frame and is stored in an open wooden box. The frame (which lifts out of the box) has a cross bar and holds 21 parallel bamboo rods. Each rod holds one bead above the cross bar and five below. The beads have a similar shape to those of other Japanese abaci. All the columns of the abacus except the center one are labeled with Japanese characters on the cross bar.
According to the donor,writing found on the back of the cross bar indicates that the abacus was made by Oh Tani (or Oh Ya) in Hiroshima and owned by Yoshizaemon Muraoka of Sakata-ken (a city in northern Japan, which was known by that name from 1871 until 1933, when it became Sakata-shi).
Currently not on view
Date made
ca 1900
Oh Tani or Oh Ya
place made
Nihon: Chūgoku, Hiroshima
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 4 cm x 46 cm x 12 cm; 1 9/16 in x 18 1/8 in x 4 23/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of K. Kadokura
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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