Episode 355 – Tales of Moonlight and Rain

This week, we’re talking about one of Japan’s most famous collections of supernatural tales, the fantastic Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of Moonlight and Rain) from 1776.

Sources

Young, Blake Morgan. “Ueda Akinari: Scholar, Poet, Writer of Fiction.” PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 1976. Available here.

Zolbrod, Leon and Akinari Ueda. Ugetsu Monogatari: Tales of Moonlight and Rain.

Images

Ueda Akinari’s grave in Kyoto’s Jokyo ward.
An undated woodcut from an illustrated version of Jasei no In (The Lust of the White Snake). This scene shows the white snake possessing Tomiko as Toyoo looks on.
The poster for Mizoguchi Kenji’s 1953 film Ugetsu.
A portrait of Ueda Akinari late in life.
Meiji era printing of Ugetsu Monogatari; note that by this point Akinari is already ID’d as the author in the text.
Portrait of Saigyo, the hero of the first tale. Depending on how you interpret the rest of the text, Saigyo is arguably the narrator of the rest of the tales as well.
The Lust of the White Snake is based on an older Chinese legend entitled “Legend of the White Snake”, which is quite famous in China today. This is an illustration of the opening of the story (the love triangle bit) from the massive Yiheyuan palace in Beijing.

1 thought on “Episode 355 – Tales of Moonlight and Rain”

  1. That Legend of the White Snake is definitely a twist on the typical “my wife is the animal I rescued ten years ago” trope in Japanese folklore.
    This was a fun episode. I love yokai. Is there any way you could do a more folkloristics-centered episode on stories like these? Or just an episode on Toriyama Sekien?

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