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Lovingly known as Sensei Miwako (‘sensei’ means ‘teacher’ in Japanese), Miwako grew up in her native country of Japan with the Abacus. When she first put her hand to a heavenly bead at age 7, her path was set. At the age of 12, she placed third in Japan’s National Abacus Competition, and her Abacus math accomplishments as an adult garnered a prestigious position in Japan’s banking industry.

She came to the U.S. in 1992 and settled in Oregon. With her love of the Abacus and a passion for working with children and teaching, she founded the Japanese Abacus Math School, JAMS, in 2001. For Miwako, there’s no greater sense of accomplishment than seeing a student’s face light up with confidence when they discover their mental calculation abilities and succeed with their class work.

And Miwako is a hands-on person – maybe that’s why she’s so skilled with the Abacus. She’s earned degrees in calligraphy, flower arranging, tea ceremony and sewing kimonos. Beyond the classroom, she still enjoys those activities, as well as getting creative in the kitchen or preparing genuine Japanese cuisine.

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Two decades of Abacus Teaching Experience
Besides opening her own school, Miwako has been working to educate others about abacus throughout the region for 20 years. Her accomplishments include:

  • Richmond Elementary School, Portland, Oregon – January 1998 to December 1999
  • Woodstock Elementary School, Portland, Oregon – Fall 1999
  • 2001 Working on Abacus pilot program for 4th graders along with Dr. Leo Richards, Director, Montana Abacus Institute and Former Professor, University of Southern California
  • Saturday Academy 2007
  • Children’s Hour Academy May 2007-June 2008
  • Village Home (Home School) Fall 2008
  • Oregon College of Art and Craft Spring 2009
  • Oregon Episcopal School Spring 2009
  • Sherwood School District – Summer 2009
  • Portland State University – 2009 to present


Mika was born and raised in Japan. She came to the U.S. to attend college and has remained ever since. Throughout her college career, she volunteered tutoring other students and helped educate elementary school students about the Japanese culture. She has long understood the importance of a strong educational foundation.

Over the years, Mika has participated in volunteer activities in the community as well as public school system. Mika has also held the position of assistant instructor at the Japanese Montessori Children’s House before joining JAMS.

Mika always finds it fascinating to watch children adapt and excel with amazing skills in their own way, and looks forward to helping them to learn and grow. Her favorite part of being a key member of the JAMS team is knowing that she also learns and grows with every student at JAMS.

Mika has a lot of hobbies. She is interested in many areas and always curious and open to trying new things. Children definitely keep her surprised and meeting new people constantly gives her a fresh perspective on life.


Mai Bukres is a third-year undergraduate student at Portland State University majoring in International Studies, International Development, and with Economics along with a minor in Child/Youth and Family Studies. In the future, she hopes to apply her research with a focus on foreign policy concerning youth. She is also a full-time educator at the Japanese Abacus Math School, teaching children Abacus. She grew up in a Japanese-Libyan home in Tigard, Oregon, and studied abroad in Japan during high school, which heavily influenced her strong international perspective in academia. She also had the opportunity to be an intern for a congressman in Japan over the summer. In her free time, she enjoys playing the violin and has been classically trained since the age of 5.

Carol - Teacher


Carol grew up in Taiwan and came to the U.S. for college. During her childhood, she learned the abacus and it is a skill she encouraged her kids to pursue. Her oldest son started learning the abacus from Miwako Sensei when he was in kindergarten and loved it. He has now graduated from college and is working, but the growth mindset to persist that was built during those years has been carried throughout his life. It has also taught him important life skills like time management. Carol believes everyone can grow intellectually through effort. She has a heart to teach children and help them gain confidence in math. She is excited to work with kids, discover their potential, and celebrate their achievements!

Abacus Classes in Portland


Born in Japan, Mitsue has lived in Portland for over twenty years. Abacus is important to her because she’s seen how it helped so many students. My own children – twin boy and girl – were students of JAMS when they were young. Now as adults, they work in computer science and finance. I hope to share my enthusiasm for abacus which helps students develop skills and confidence!