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... 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.
--Columbia University Press
Tales of Moonlight and Rain, by Ueda Akinari, is a great book to read on a dark and stormy night during Halloween week, or if you are just in the mood for ghost stories.
This book is a scholarly work, so each story comes after quite a bit of historical background and cultural explanations. I decided to read the stories first and then read the background information, which worked well for me.
Of the nine stories in the book, my favorites was "The Reed Choked House" which is the story of man who leaves his wife behind when he goes to the city in hopes of making lots of money. He tells her to wait for him, that he will return in the Fall. Circumstances prevent his return for seven years! When he finally does arrive home, he finds the house overgrown and choked in reeds and in decay. He is astonished to find his wife waiting for him there. However, by the light of morning, the sad truth is revealed.
This story was also combined with another in the book and made into the 1953 award-winning movie "Ugetsu," which is a beautifully haunting classic film by director, Kenji Mizoguchi.
Read two other excellent reviews of this book were written by Dolce Bellezza and by Moo.