The soroban introduced from China was significantly larger and had two globe-shaped beads in its upper part, which were counted as 5, and five beads in lower part, which were counted as 1.
Those globe-shaped beads have since been transformed into diamond-shaped ones. The upper part was reduced to one row and the lower part to four rows. Then, little by little slight improvements were made and the soroban became the smaller, easier-to-use one that we have today.
It is interesting to note that these modifications of the soroban directly reflect the ability of the Japanese to take an idea and improve on it. This well-known ability is clearly shown when examing the history of the soroban.