Counting to meet culture at upcoming soroban competitions

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TOKYO (May 31, 1983) Students from DoD schools in Japan compete in the inaugural Kantō Plain soroban contest at the National Education Center.
TOKYO (May 31, 1983) Students from DoD schools in Japan compete in the inaugural Kantō Plain soroban contest at the National Education Center.

Counting to meet culture at upcoming soroban competitions

by: Charly Hoff, U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity - Pacific | .
.
published: March 26, 2013

TOKYO — A symphony of sighs, gasps, cheers and clicking and zipping beads will fill the room as the kickoff event for annual soroban competitions gets underway 10 a.m. Thursday at the Sagamihara Shimin Kaikan (Sagamihara Civic Hall) located in the outskirts of Tokyo near U.S. Army Garrison Camp Zama and Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Soroban is the Japanese word for abacus—a counting device with origins dating back six millennia and still used in many Asian countries. Although several contests are held across mainland Japan and Okinawa each year for DoDEA Pacific students, the upcoming event at Sagamihara is the only one that features joint competition with Japanese students.

Approximately 80 students from Japanese schools located in Kanagawa Prefecture will participate alongside 90 DoDEA students from Arnn Elementary School, Byrd ES, Ikego ES, Lanham ES and The Sullivans ES. The students will compete in a variety of oral and written challenges to determine the overall champion and top performers in several categories.

Following the contest Thursday, all participating students will join in a special friendship building and cultural exchange activity using the traditional Japanese game Jan Ken Pon—similar to rock-paper-scissors.

The soroban is believed to have been first introduced to the Japanese via China and Korea around 1600 A.D., however, over the centuries the Japanese soroban has been modified for portability, advanced calculations and finger-friendly bead design geared toward quick and accurate counting. Although handheld calculators have been available for decades, the soroban remains popular today among many Japanese families with elementary-age children as a way to reinforce mathematics concepts taught at school.

The table below provides information about each of the upcoming contests:

NOTE: All events listed below will take place within mainland Japan or Okinawa. Times listed with an asterisk* indicate these times are not yet finalized; please contact the POC to confirm final event times.

Date    Time    Location    POC    Phone/Email

28 March    10:00-14:00    Kantō Plain:
Sagamihara Shimin Kaikan (Sagamihara Civic Hall)    Manami Mikami    DSN: 225-1646
Mobile: 080-4130-1580
Manami.Mikami@pac.dodea.edu

17 April    *09:20-11:20    Sasebo:
Harbor View Club    Megumi Fukui    DSN: 252-8800
COMM: 0956-50-8800
Megumi.Fukui@pac.dodea.edu

29 April    *09:00-11:30    Okinawa:
Surfside Club at Camp Kinser    Mike Schoebinger
or Hiro Masashiro    DSN: 634-1204
COMM: 098-961-1204 Mike.Schoebinger@pac.dodea.edu
Hiro.Masashiro@pac.dodea.edu

15 May    TBD    Kantō Plain:
U.S. Naval Joint Services Activity - The New Sanno    Manami Mikami    DSN: 225-1646
Mobile: 080-4130-1580
Manami.Mikami@pac.dodea.edu

29 May    *09:15-11:40    Misawa:
Misawa Civic Center    Masumi Kumagai    DSN: 226-2647
COMM: 0176-77-2647
Masumi.Kumagai@pac.dodea.edu
 

Tags: Camp Fuji, Camp Zama, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Misawa Air Bae, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Sasebo Naval Base, Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokota Air Base, Education
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