ONO, Japan >> The city of Ono in Hyogo prefecture sent 1,500 donated abacuses from all over Japan to the island nation of Tonga, where they will be used in elementary schools and for teacher training. The donations, sent in June, were made through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Ono, known for producing finely constructed wooden Banshu abacuses, posted a notice on its website seeking donations. Collection sites were set up around the city.
The abacuses were carefully wrapped and packed into boxes. Some had the original owner’s name engraved on them or were sent with an abacus exam certification sticker, indicating that they had been used with care.
The city has been sending out secondhand abacuses internationally since 2010. So far, about 8,500 abacuses have been given to such countries as India and Lebanon, though about 80% have been sent to Tonga.
Even though learning calculations on an abacus is a required subject at public elementary schools in Tonga — it is believed to improve academic ability and concentration — the country has a shortage of them, according to the agency.
“We hope that the abacuses, which were gathering dust in homes and other places, will prove useful,” said an Ono official.