One in three Japanese are proficient with an abacus

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I always thought that abacus use was a required part of the primary school curriculum in Japan, but looking at the results of this survey from Katte2Q regarding abacuses it seems it is not, though perhaps pretty close to it.

In primary school I used to use a slide rule, but I doubt I could use one today.

Here’s some video from Japan national abacus and mental arithmetic speed competition – the finger fidgeting you see is invisible abacus – at that high level the arithmetic is all muscle memory, so an abacus is not really needed:


Research results

Q1: When you were a student, did you learn how to use an abacus? (Sample size=approx 15,000)

Yes
65.9%
No
25.5%
Don’t know, don’t remember
8.6%

Q2: Can you do arithmetic with an abacus? (Sample size=approx 15,000)

Yes
33.4%
Not now, but used to be able to
40.3%
No
26.3%

Q3: Which do you prefer for arithmetic, a calculator or an abacus? (Sample size=approx 15,000)

Abacus
11.5%
Calculator
88.5%

Demographics

Between the 30th of July and the 7th of August, around 15,000 members of the Katte2Q monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. No further demographics were given.

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