Point of interest: counting with a そろばん (Japanese abacus)

counting with a そろばん (Japanese abacus)
211 words
The そろばん, or Japanese abacus, is an early form of mechanical calculator using beads mounted on rods. The Japanese form of abacus was imported from China, which also appears to have been the source of the style of abacus used in ancient Rome.
The basic idea of an abacus is that each vertical rod represents 1-9 units. The rightmost rod representing unit 1 (i.e. the numbers 1 to 9), the next left represents unit 10 (i.e. the numbers 10, 20 through to 90), and so on. The horizontal bar in the middle is known as the 'reckoning bar', and when a bead is moved towards the bar, it is 'on'. Moving the top bead down counts as 5 units, and moving each of the four lower beads up towards the reckoning bar counts as 1 unit each.
In this image, the rightmost column represents 8 (5 + 3), and the column to its left represents 7 (5 + 2) times 10 = 70. So this image is showing us the number 78.
そろばん can be written in kanji as 算盤, literally 'calculation carrier', but as the reading そろ for 算 is not considered a Joyo (common) reading, it is more common to write it in kana as そろばん or ソロバン.

Kanji used in this point of interest

サン    calculate   
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バン    tray   
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