"Reading, writing, and abacus calculation" were studied by all. The average person was highly skilled at arithmetic.

Development and popularization of arithmetic

The Edo Period boasted a long stable period of peace that facilitated the birth of a society in which commoners, too, could learn "reading, writing, and abacus calculation" at terakoya (private elementary schools). The study of Wasan (traditional Japanese mathematics), once confined to scholars and certain members of the warrior class, also spread among commoners due to its practical application in study and business. Mathematics schools emerged in the academic field, and the ensuing intellectual competition led to the development of a high level body of mathematics comparative to Western mathematics.

Wazan books for commoners

By the late Edo period, simple wazan knowledge spread among the people, appearing in numerous literatures. A wide variety of wazan were introduced ranging from textbooks in temple schools, daily usage encyclopedia, abacus manuals, geometric progression, interest calculation to games such an magic square.

Hatsubi Calculation Method

This is he only publication issued by the wazan scholar Tkkazu Seki (? - 1708) during his lifetime. This book provides answers to the 15 questions proposed by Kazuyuki Sawaguchi in his book Kokin Sanpoki (1671). Over the 25 years since the publication of Kinkoki, the complexity of wazan problems far exceeded the realm of elementary arithmetic where promlems could easily be solved using the abacus. For problems shich in present days would use algebraic equations, Siki applied Fukudai which was developed from the traditional Chinese calculation method Tengen jyutsu.

Calculation board and Juuki calculation method

The abacus has been popularly used by many people in modern times, however most wazan scholars, used the "sangi" or counting rods, a calculation tool used since ancient times. Under this method, counting rods are arranged and calculated according to the decimal system. THe wooden or paper board used to maneuver the counting rods is called the calculation board. Lines are drawn along the matrix lines and the counting rods are placed inside the squares. This is somewhat a roundabout method of calculation, but has proven to be a more sophisticated method of calculation (processing of equations of higher degree) than the abacus.

Credits: Story

This exhibition is based on Global Gallery 2F : Progress in Science and Technology

Photo : NAKAJIMA Yusuke

Credits: All media

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