Soroban and flash anzan

A couple of members have asked about the soroban and flash anzan training.

A good website to start with the soroban is this one:

To see how to do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division:
Here, you can also insert your own calculation and the page will create a video of how to do this on the soroban.

The biggest thing you need to learn is the automation process.
Once automated your fingers just move the beads without thinking.

After automation, you can start to mentally visualize the soroban and move the beads in your mind.

Learning flash anzan.
I have a couple of apps I use on my phone that I wrote about in different threads.

It is difficult to find good information on how to learn flash anzan.
This might be the reason why:
“People who become proficient in use of soroban almost automatically become adept at mental calculation, known as anzan (暗算, “blind calculation”) in Japanese. As a part of soroban instruction, intermediate students are asked to do calculation mentally by visualizing the soroban (or any other abacus) and working out the problem without trying to figure out the answer beforehand. This is one reason why, despite the advent of handheld calculators, some parents send their children to private tutors to learn the soroban.”

How long does it take to learn flash anzan?
“After years of practice, devotees develop the ability to do sums on a mental calculator, solely based on visualisation. The skill is known as “flash anzan” and is the centrepiece of an annual abacus competition.”

A little bit about the techniques used in flash anzan is found here:

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I can only recommend Totton’s site, the first link in your post. It is truly the best online resource for abaus techniques on the whole web!

He is the most active member of the soroban/abacus group (at yahoo) and has collected the explanations over the years. The chinese short division method ( ) he has in his collection was once provided by me in an initial form.

There are more techniques on that site on this page ( ).

I particularly love the short division method, since it can be of help for mental calculations also, especially when you have trouble with finding the right dividend figure. It has a learning curve because you need to memorize the rules in the first place. However, this is not too difficult and the rules can always be recalled when you know the way they are constructed. Anyone interested in hearing more about this?


Yes, please!

Torsten, those links aren’t opening for me.

Sorry, there is a bug that I need to fix. The links were being removed. I’ve edited the post to make them work in the meantime.

(Sorry, Torsten – I moved the links into the parentheses until I can fix the bug.)

The most important link is this one:

Short division:

Japanese abacus:

I agree with Torsten, Totton’s site is fantastic.
If you are serious with the soroban, read it a couple of times and put everything in practice.
Study it religiously!


OK, see my new post!

I use caktovik inupiaque to visualize number

Hi. I am recently interested in mental math! (i have a masters in math and can handle numbers faster than average without specific training, say 6 10-digit additions in 5 minute) and I rely completely on directly handling the numbers, mostly in phonological loop. I am 25+ age. Is it advised to learn Soroban techniques if I intend to get serious about this field? If so, would I be able to get normal results as I get with an year of practice? i have some degree of aphantsia, but I hope it is something that can be trained