I remember having to use the abacus when I was a child; it was one of the vertical standing ones with different color beads similar to the one on the picture to the left. I never got passed the adding and subtracting number though. Multiplying using an abacus was a little difficult; you needed to count beads, move them over, subtract them again, then count them all over again etc. At the end of it all, a simple 6×8 ended up taking you 5 minutes. So when I see these children use the abacus faster than a calculator I’m blown away at how accurate they can be.
The video above talks about some schools in Tokyo where they teach their children the ancient art of the abacus on the regular basis. By the age of 12, they are so good that they can visualize the abacus by manipulating thin air. The teacher has to be a little strict, like hitting them, and scream at them… but he said “they must be happy because keep on coming back.” This video is supposed to show us that with enough practice, the mind can conduct large calculations extremely fast.