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
Object Name
Date made
ca 1900
Oh Tani or Oh Ya
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
place made
Nihon: Chūgoku, Hiroshima
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of K. Kadokura
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or comment on their value, rarity, or collectibility.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.