Tales of Moonlight and Rain

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 235 pages
1 Review

First published in 1776, the nine gothic tales in this collection are Japan's finest and most celebrated examples of the literature of the occult. They subtly merge the world of reason with the realm of the uncanny and exemplify the period's fascination with the strange and the grotesque. They were also the inspiration for Mizoguchi Kenji's brilliant 1953 film Ugetsu.

The title Ugetsu monogatari (literally "rain-moon tales") alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon. In "Shiramine," the vengeful ghost of the former emperor Sutoku reassumes the role of king; in "The Chrysanthemum Vow," a faithful revenant fulfills a promise; "The Kibitsu Cauldron" tells a tale of spirit possession; and in "The Carp of My Dreams," a man straddles the boundaries between human and animal and between the waking world and the world of dreams. The remaining stories feature demons, fiends, goblins, strange dreams, and other manifestations beyond all logic and common sense.

The eerie beauty of this masterpiece owes to Akinari's masterful combination of words and phrases from Japanese classics with creatures from Chinese and Japanese fiction and lore. Along with The Tale of Genji and The Tales of the Heike, Tales of Moonlight and Rain has become a timeless work of great significance. This new translation, by a noted translator and scholar, skillfully maintains the allure and complexity of Akinari's original prose.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The translator is ignorant about the religions practised and therefore does not explain the symbolism
expressed in the text. This symbolism can be found in movies such as the 7th Seal. A professor
of Latin American Literature explained some of this symbolism. Examples : rain symbolizes passion and a boat ride symbolizes death because we journey to the after life by boat. I learned from a sociology course at Domincan University about archetypes such as the seeker, the fool, the youth. Clearly such symbolism is used in this stories.
The translator was also ignorant about the customs, lifestyle and beliefs of the characters depicted in these stories.
I see clear parallels in Shintoism and Native American religion, for instance animals and spirits taking on human form, sacred spots and mountain gods. I have not found any literature on comparative religion : Shintoism and Native American Beliefs.
I did see something on Germany tv about how North Europeans and American Indians have some genes from from Asia. It was refered to as the Great Eastern Migration.This lends me to believe that there was a proto culture that existed before the early migration from Asia to North Europe and the Americas. For some reason, some of this culture has been preserved in this literature and with the religion of Japan and Native Americans.


The Early Modern Period in Japan
About the Author
Bunjin National Learning and Yomihon
About Tales of Moonlight and Rain
About the Translation
The ReedChoked House
The Carp of My Dreams
The Owl of the Three Jewels
The Kibitsu Cauldron
A Serpents Lust
The Blue Hood
On Poverty and Wealth

The Chrysanthemum Vow

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Ueda Akinari (1734-1809), one of the great writers of Japanese fiction, was also a scholar, poet, physician, and tea master. Anthony H. Chambers is professor of Japanese literature and literary translation at Arizona State University. He has translated many works of Japanese literature, both classical and modern, and is the author of The Secret Window: Ideal Worlds in Tanizaki's Fiction.

Bibliographic information