The Japan Society
Education Teach about Japan Online Resources

Soroban: The Japanese Abacus

Subject: Maths
Level: Key Stage 1 / Key Stage 2
Age: 5-7 years / 7-11 years
Resource Type: Presentations / Lesson Plans / Loan Resources / Schemes of Work / Worksheets

Soroban, the Japanese abacus, provides a visual and tangible tool which allows students to see and manipulate a physical representation of abstract numbers. The soroban can not only help consolidate arithmetic skills and improve concentration, but also allows the exploration of mathematical concepts through the lens of Japan.

The Japan Society offers loans of soroban, including free long-term loans of teaching soroban, and tutorial videos. To access the videos or enquire about borrowing soroban, please contact education@japansociety.org.uk


This scheme of work can be used as a complement to your curriculum to: help students understand place values, practice number bonds, and manipulate numbers quickly. Download the Soroban Scheme of Work for an overview of the lessons.

Learning objectives

  • To identify and represent numbers on the soroban 
  • To use the soroban for addition and subtraction
  • To perform multiple operations (addition and subtraction) on the soroban with fluency 

See the Soroban Teaching Notes and lessons for more information. 

Note: This is a pilot resource and is being further developed. Some sections may be revised or updated.

Individual Lessons

Lesson 1: Introduction to the Soroban

Lesson 2: Representing Numbers

Lesson 3: Addition on the Soroban

Lesson 4: Subtraction on the Soroban

Lesson 5: Review and Practice

Additional Resources 

The Japan Society has class sets of soroban and teaching soroban available to borrow, subject to availability. To request, please visit our loan resources page.