
Classical Calculations: Japan’s EdoPeriod “Wasan” Tradition of Mathematics
During the Edo period (1603–1868), as Japan walked a path distinct from most of the rest of the world, it forged an adventurous new path in mathematical teaching and thinking. The wasan tradition, open to warrior and peasant alike, allowed people to test themselves on difficult math problems. The solutions and proofs they produced were offered to temples and shrines in the form of votive plaques called sangaku, of which around a thousand survive to this day, testament to the dedication the Japanese of past centuries showed to this mathematical pursuit.