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Suna No Utsuwa [砂の器]



Drama Details
Title:Suna No Utsuwa
Vessel of Sand
Telecast:2004-01-18 to 2004-03-28
Season:Winter 2004

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TV Station:TBS
Duration:11 Episodes

Eiryo Waga (Masahiro Nakai) is well-known musician. As a composer and pianist, he has begun a rapid climb to stardom. But he must keep his terrible past a secret.

One day someone who knows all about his past, Kenichi Miki (Hidekazu Akai), appears before him. In order to protect the fame he has obtained, Waga kills Miki. Immediately after that, Waga runs into Asami Naruse (Yasuko Matsuyuki). He manages to pull himself together and leave the scene.

An investigation team is established led by two detectives Shuichiro Imanishi (Ken Watanabe) and Masaya Yoshimura (Masaru Nagai), but they have difficulty making any headway. Meanwhile, by coincidence Waga bumps into Asami again. Asami is a stage actress has her own dark past. Soon the two fall in love. But Waga is already engaged to Ayaka Tadokoro (Kotomi Kyono). It was with her father's help that Waga began his ascent to the top of the music world. It looks like Waga's ambitions are about to confront reality. However....

Based on Seicho Matsumoto's famous work that was released in 1960-61, the drama illustrates the life of a man burdened with a heavy fate in a contemporary setting.

Related Videos (1)


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Soundtrack and Theme Songs (1)
1. Yashashi Kisu wo Shite やさしいキスをして [Dreams Come True]

Actor/Actress Cast (14)
Nakai Masahiro
Waga Eiryo
和賀 英良 (31)
Matsuyuki Yasuko
Naruse Asami
成瀬 あさみ (30)
Takeda Shinji
Sekikawa Yusuke
関川 雄介 (30)
Kyono Kotomi
Tadokoro Ayaka
田所 綾香 (27)
Nagai Masaru
Yoshimura Masaya
吉村 雅哉 (27)
Matsuoka Shunsuke
Karaki Isamu
唐木 イサム (30)
Okada Yoshinori
Miyata Makoto
宮田 誠 (27)
Sato Hitomi
Ohgihara Reiko
扇原 玲子
Natsuyagi Isao
Tadokoro Shigeyoshi
田所 重喜 (60)
Ichimura Masachika
Aso Yuzuru
麻生 譲 (55)
Akai Hidekazu
Miki Kenichi
三木 謙一 (60)
Harada Yoshio
Motoura Chiyokichi
本浦 千代吉 (63)
Watanabe Ken
Imanishi Syuichiro
今西 修一郎 (45)
Saito Ryusei

Related Links (1)
1. Official Suna no Utsuwa Website

Drama Reviews (11)
The review section may contain spoilers! Please understand
that you may find out about this drama's endings and plots!

1. ~A Tragic Tale of A Little Boy~ [Rating: 10/10]
Such a great story! Little Eiryo's story...soo tragic, and touching...I cried, cried and cried seeing how much little Eiryo suffered....

I love Suna even more, more than Shiroi Kage, Sleeping Forest, Ice World, Saimin, Sorakara and those other beautiful dark dramas!!!^O^ Sugoooi!! Its a tale of a father and a son! For me...parents-child relationship is always much, much more touching than love story!^.^

For the first time in modern Japan dramas I see the use of breathtaking sceneries!!! Gosh soooo beautifully filmed!! Love it so much! Definitely a plus points for the drama!! Great cinematography too! Reminds me of Shiroi Kage.....but Suna have even better sceneries...the mountains vast, the grassland, the sea, the cliff, the flowers in spring, in autumn, the trees of winter, summer....sugooooi!!! Whereas SKage is just about the lake and the sea ^_^

Yappari.....soundtrack hoshiiii!!! Musics are all sugoooi! I cant get rid the piano tunes of Eiryo's Shukumei out of my head!! It keeps ringing!! x)

Looooove Eiryo & Asami's chemistry!!^o^ Its blur.....but sweet relationship they has. In terms of compatibility, he looks best with Yasuko Matsuyuki(Asami)!^^ Coz her looks fit in to be a dark character, just like Nakai^^
The opening scene is sooo sweet...Asami held Eiryo's hand........one of my fave! Another fave is when he saved her from commiting suicide, then he embrace her, comfort her, it really left a deep impression.
I also love it, when Asami says his hand are atakai^^ And later on, Eiryo give her his gloves, coz her hands are always cold......sweeeeeet!!!!^.^

As for me...Nakai's best performance is definitely in this drama!! Not as Naoe, not as Peace...but as an Eiryo Waga!!^.^ Hontou ni! Sugoi yo! Superb! Such a difficult character to be acted in my opinion....coz it involves alot of emotion and sensitivity. Naoe & Peace didnt involve as much emotion as Eiryo.
I love Eiryo's character's complexity....no matter how he tried to form a new character in front of people...the cool, plain expression Eiryo Waga.....he is still the little boy Hideo inside....so fragile, full of emotions and such a sensitive person.
I love how he panicked when a police car's sirene passing by his mansion....he thinks he's gonna be caught! x)
And his anxiety, after Imanishi the detective exits his mansion...till he trembles so bad...some would think he exaggerate it...but i dont think so....it tries to tell the audience how fragile & sensitive Eiryo really is.

And its not easy for someone who just learned to play a piano for few months only, acting as a talented and professional pianist!! Trust me! Nakai did it wonderfully!^o^ I'm amazed!!! Sugooooii!! Its as if, he can really play as good as Eiryo!
Plus, he plays it with expressions and feelings! Hats off to Nakai!

Overall, Nakai did a wonderful, wonderful job!!! The expression acting, the charactarize acting, playing the piano acting.....all perfectly well-done and he deserve a Best Actor award more than anyone else!
And plus....Nakai's dramas/movie in these past few years....3 times in a row, has never fails to satisfy me to the fullest!!! Shiroi Kage, Mohouhan and this drama....Suna....^^
(Just FYI...I'm not really a Nakai fan, my ichiban in Smap is another member....^^ I'm actually amazed with his acting-skill, NOT subjectively!^^;;)

Suna have such a different plot!! Love its originality....as far as I know...none of other JDrama is similar to this type of drama....so, I'm not sure where should I categorize this drama to x) Its sure different than Sorakara and SForest...

I'm so excited abt this drama, and I want to get the original book!!!^o^ World War II was set as background in the original novel....omoshiroi!! It must be even more tragic x)
Reviewed by yanie_chan on 22 May 2004
2. My New Favourite Drama [Rating: 10/10]
Suna No Utsuwa is a show that has alot in common with One Million Stars Falling From The Sky. Both have protagonists who are burdened by fate and both these protagonists are being tracked down by a relentless detective. The difference between the shows lies in the execution. While One Million uses fast music and cliff hangers, Suna takes its time, building all of it's characters through the use of expressions, not words.

Suna No Utsuwa is the first drama I've seen that truly understands more can be said with a set piece of music and a look than any amount of dialogue. The use of opera and orchestral music along with sweeping shots of both urban and rural Japan is breath taking and can't be done justice in this review, it just has to be seen to be appreciated. The "Shukumei" piece is like nothing else I've ever heard, how it progresses along with Waga's character throughout the show is brilliant and makes it all the more moving.

The cast is perfect. Matsuyuki gives me hope for jdrama actresses, it's good to see that their is someone else out there other than Shibasaki Kou that can do these dark roles well. Watanabe Ken is great as the detective who wants the case to be solved but at the same time is conflicted by how tragic the whole situation really is as he slowly pieces together Waga's life. I don't really know how to describe Nakai's performance, I've never been able to so easily sympathize with any character in any drama period. This is a truly tragic character that is made all the more sadder by Nakai's expressions and mannerisms. Harada Yoshio also deserves recognition, the last two episodes of the show were held together by him.

This show does have a few holes in it, the major ones lying in the logic behind some of moves Waga makes when trying to elude the detectives. These are minor complaints though as most jdramas are usually riddled with coincidences and are pretty much a standard affair to keep a drama moving.

I've heard people call this slow but it has been a more intense experience than almost all the shows I've seen. Maybe it's because we are so used to having cliches shoved down our throats that when something like this comes along, people have a hard time adjusting. Regardless of its pace, I can't recommend this show enough and now that it has been subtitled(thanks to gromitt) there is no reason you shouldn't at least try it. I personally believe this is a must watch if you consider yourself a jdrama fan.

P.S. I felt some what unfulfilled with the ending but I decided to sleep on it before writing this review. When I woke up the next morning I understood and appreciated what they were trying to do. This drama is about real life and that's what it delivers.
Reviewed by sucigam on 19 March 2007
3. Nakai Masahiro-san's Breathtaking Performance [Rating: 10/10]
I finished watching Suna No Utsuwa and I am very impressed and amazed by Nakai Masahiro-san's performance. I never would have imagined him taking such a serious and mature role. His performance was phenomenal. He really got into the character of Eiryo Waga and the emotions he expressed with his eyes and mannerisms is really breathtaking. He makes the audience empathize with the character. The audience can feel the painful childhood he had to endure while he was growing up in the village. It is so sad to see how he has to suffer guilt and pain for what his father had done. And it is not his fault, but his father is the reason why he is in his current predicament and the cause for his downfall. So sad. I cried in every scene when they showed his sad and painful childhood. I really enjoy this drama very much. It is really deep and emotional. Very different from the typical J-doramas. I am definitely going to watch this again. And it is no surprise that Nakai Masahiro won the Best Actor award for this. And Ken Watanabe won for Best Supporting Actor. Plus the show won for Best TV Show of 2004.
Reviewed by airabusmap on 27 December 2004
4. A Mystery? A love story? A tragedy? [Rating: 7/10]
A story about a an extremely talented musician who battles his past and the demons inside him. The drama portrays his struggles through a lot of music and scenes, and not a lot of dialogue. It is beautifully directed and the mood of the drama was apparent. However, after watching this drama, I realized that this drama is actually a police story. The other half of the story shows the cop trying to crack the case, while at the same the main guy sort of has a fling with another girl. That story with the girl never took off and ended up nowhere, so at the end i never got the feeling that this was a love story i was watching. There also wasn't really any suspense in this; the guy never really did anything to thwart the efforts of the police in any way.
The guy did play that same song over and over again, and it became apparent later that the guy just wanted to finish his final piece and accept his fate. One thing that bugged me the whole time was how he didn't get rid of the evidence simply by doing it himself; that was hard for me to accept and threw off my rhythm for the rest of the drama.
Reviewed by Hiro Toyo on 5 March 2005
5. Wow! So far so good [Rating: 9/10]
I have just started to watch this drama on video and I cannot believe the exquisite performance that Nakai Masahiro is giving. OMG!!! His facial expressions combined with the fantastic sceneries is absolutely breathtaking. I have always liked his banter and joking around in Smap concerts and shows and think he does great MC. When I heard about Suna No Utsuwa (The Last Symphony) and that he was the lead actor, I had to watch it. So far I have only seen Chapter 1 and 2. I still have more to go. But the suspense in this show is great. As a viewer, you have no idea what his character is going to do next. Very mysterious, very intriguing, very suspenseful. I love this!!! So far, so good!!!
Reviewed by airabusmap on 13 December 2004
6. better than the film version [Rating: 10/10]
suna no utsuwa, or vessel of sand, is an old 60's novel made into a film in the early 70's of the same title. the tv series is somewhat
different in the sub-plots and story of the father and his demise but in some ways is superior to the film version in that the point of view is from hideo, the son, whereas the main pov of the film is from the inspector imanishi. don't get me wrong, the film is heart wrenching too, but the music is better in the series and many of the characters are better fleshed out. the dvd box edition is slightly different than the broadcast but nothing major. one of the best tear jerkers in j-dorama history, especially the last episode.
Reviewed by takezo on 30 August 2008
7. Nakai, the real maestro! [Rating: 10/10]
Definitely a 10! Well worth the wait! Never thought wacky Nakai could carry off this role! He really gave a 110% here! His facial expressions were really something else. He didn't have to say much, just look at his face! Everything in this drama, the car, clothes, sceneries all fit the cool and sometimes cold Waga Eriyo!
Great watch! If you want a substantial, solid drama, this is the one for you!
Reviewed by pawnakai on 17 February 2005
8. Crazy Pianist man [Rating: 4/10]
Alright I thought of watching this drama because of Nakai-kun, but after episode 1 I decided against it. He just seems so cold/crazy/psychotic which is completely opposite of his persona on SMAPxSMAP or Utaban and it just seems alll too bizarro for me. XD Maybe the story is good, maybe it gets better but I just couldn't get past episode 1, it freaked me out too much, and was too depressing.
Reviewed by Hinano on 13 September 2004
9. ...stunningly beautiful. [Rating: 10/10]
I love the beauty and the atmosphere of the whole drama...Nakai and Matsuyuki does a very, very good job acting.
I don't recommend it to people who like happy dramas...This one's very depressing and sad, but in a good way. It actually kept to the novel very well too.
Reviewed by vash_donutangel on 26 February 2004
10. BETTER THAN THE CLASSIC BOOK or the old movie!!!! [Rating: 10/10]
Beautiful music,cinematography,well-written screenplay, and casting - it will move you - it was much better than the original Matsumoto Seicho book it is based on - a MUST SEE!!!!!!!!
Reviewed by RISAKO on 15 August 2004
11. Review for Suna No Utsuwa [���̊�] [Rating: 10/10]
Such a tragic story! The theme music is terrific yet it adds more sadness to the story. The scenery set for the little boy's past is so beautiful.
Reviewed by christinelee on 11 June 2004

Comments From Users (38)
This section may contain spoilers! Do not proceed if you
do not want to read about this drama's endings and plots!

1. Comments by orange1806 [Rating: 5/10]
oh god.. i watched it only cos all the reviews said it was good. i had to force myself to finish the entire 8 discs and it really disappointed me. the acting was great no doubt, the scenery too. but it was so long and draggy and the last scene was such a letdown. i mean.. it was great directing, but... i like dark dramas.. i enjoyed sora kara furu ichi oku hoshi. i enjoyed california no yume. i enjoyed several others.. but this one.. only the part they revealed his past was well.. rather touching. i'm sure i'm not void of emotions cos i cry so easily at almost everything.. but this one really failed to make me feel much. the love between the 2 leads was so subtle i'm wondering if i'm imagining it! yes, matsuyuki likes the guy.. but did he like her?? and i thought i read she had her own past.. but hers was hardly well brought out. in fact, it was so briefly touched on i din feel anything at all. i wouldnt really recommend this show. the music got on my nerves after a while too. overrated to me. period.
2. Comments by ainangst [Rating: 8/10]
Yes this is a GREAT drama. Unfortunately I won't give it a 10 because the first half is quite slow. Having said this, its still captivate me to keep on watching. I'm immensely impressed with Nakai performance (psychotic killer, cool pianist, childlike guilt stricken man),though sometimes it feels a bit forced. I can see that he put too much thought in the character that I saw that he is "acting". The leading lady+the cinematography is perfect and Ken Watanabe is the best japanese actor. The guy just oozes with screen presence, its breathtaking. The thing that kept bugging me is, why didn't he use bleach?
3. Comments by yume [Rating: 8/10]
Nakai plays a beautiful, yet haunting character in Suna no Utsuwa--while the heezing of his voice when he gets worked up in the first episode may seem annoying, it all the more makes the character realistic. It's a very REAL mystery drama. To add to this, the scenery compliments the dark, almost romantically sad beat of the story--it's all very eye-pleasing. After watching Nakai for 10 minutes in this drama, I've come to a firm resolution that he is more suited for acting than singing.
4. Comments by atheon [Rating: 7/10]
July 2004: The plot is very interesting but i think it was too gloomy for me. Btw, the theme song by DCT really suits the drama and not forget the song nakai played, shukume.....i started to get sick of it in the end cus they played the song way too many times......but really nice arrangement and great tune thou. This is a great suspension drama, and great performance by the actors in the drama.
5. Comments by pawnakai [Rating: 10/10]
This is truely a great watch, worth the wait (through all the lovely sceneries and endless music)! Not much dialogue but Nakai's facial expressions were more than enough to make you sit through this! Who would have thought Nakai could carry this role so convincingly?! His car, clothes, apartment really fit his cool and sometimes cold persona!
6. Comments by orenji [Rating: 10/10]
Another one of Nakai's best works in my pov. A dorama full of intensity. Great music used in the dorama and the piano piece titled "Shukumei" is a wonderful and impactful piece that got my attention completely. Yasuko's role as Asami was very convincing too. Not forgetting Watanabe Ken as well. Great dorama in total!
7. Comments by spazzy06 [Rating: ?/10]
12 minutes into episode 3 and I have decided to call it quits. The storyline execution is too draggy and mind numbing for my liking. I really don't have a desire to wait around multiple episodes to see when and if the pacing does pick up. It's not a terrible drama, it's just not captivating enough.
8. Comments by oldasianguy [Rating: 10/10]
BRILLIANT!!!! This show has moved into my top 3 Japanese dramas.....Words cannot describe how magnificant this show was..from the great camera work to the awesome music through out the show. Nakai Masahiro deserves all the credit!!!!!The last 2 episodes were so spell-bounding....BRAVO !!!!!!!!!
9. Comments by jdfan [Rating: 8/10]
This is a dark drama (also visually dark) that started with a murder case. The whole production has a movie look and feel to it. Nakai did a good job and the rest of the cast was good too. It was a little too slow at the end but it's worth while �c..
10. Comments by Ralbol [Rating: 10/10]
2 incroyables derniers episodes pour un excellent drama. Les acteurs sont bons (ah, ce ken watanabe), la musique aussi (elle joue un grand role dans l'emotion cree par ce drama). En fait c'est ptet pas plus mal les drama sans idol de 20 ans ?
11. Comments by darkflame21 [Rating: 10/10]
One of the best dramas I've ever seen. Unfortunatly too many peopl elike to praise Kimutaku's rold in Pride which aired the same season as this, when that drama cant even begin to compare to this in any way.
12. Comments by loveaomori [Rating: 6/10]
My first dorama with Nakai. He doesn't play that bad but the story wasn't very intersting and the two dtectives seemed so unreal! Why do they investigate so far for just a mere poor man??!! that's so crazy!
13. Comments by warren.mcclendon [Rating: 10/10]
Instant Classic. This is a great real cop drama with a different twist. The scenery was great. Music superb. The acting was a lot more eralistic (not the fantasty sugar sweet drama). I loved it.
14. Comments by delfichacha [Rating: 10/10]
So sad.. Too sad a stori for mi.. Little hideo is so poor thing.. I cried terribli seein how little hideo suffered.. Nakai did a great job.. Fantastic.. E theme song is great too..
15. Comments by v1olet [Rating: 10/10]
This is a great, dark, depressing, tragic dorama. Nakai Masahiro & Ken Watanabe are great actors. No other words to describe this dorama than "GREAT" - A MUST WATCH DARK DORAMA
16. Comments by maguro666 [Rating: 8/10]
the start was a little odd, thank goodness nakai look so cute that kept me watching. the story does develope very well though. worth watching.
17. Comments by romi510 [Rating: 9/10]
Very dark story...Great performance from Nakai-kun, I think this is his best work yet.
18. Comments by yolande [Rating: 10/10]
i adore this. simply adore.
watanabe and nakai are very impressive.
love shukumei.
19. Comments by yt [Rating: 7/10]
I liked the story most when played out by little one Saito Ryusei. Isn't he kawaii?!
20. Comments by raku [Rating: 10/10]
Loved it! Who knew Nakai Masahiro had serious drama in him! Wonderfully directed
21. Comments by shinjitsu [Rating: 9/10]
Another dark drama. Story is a little too bizarre but very entertaining.
22. Comments by rainbowglasss [Rating: 7/10]
A bit draggy. Another unavoidable tragedy. Shukumei desu kara.
23. Comments by russia [Rating: 9/10]
it's that good. once you get past the boring first half
24. Comments by RedSamurai [Rating: 10/10]
10, Yes! It's just that good... *speechless*
25. Comments by kawai [Rating: 10/10]
Agreed 100% to those 10/10 comments above.
26. Comments by emiko [Rating: ?/10]
haven't watch yet...but heard it's good..
27. Comments by siu dong [Rating: 10/10]
great plot, great music, great acting.
28. Comments by fasix [Rating: ?/10]
The Story of the Last Symphony
29. Comments by Aunty Coco [Rating: ?/10]
Still sitting on my shelf...
30. Comments by GIGI [Rating: ?/10]
In the watch list.

Read all 38 comments from users

Users who voted for this drama (19)
1. Fye_D.Flowright
The first Nakai's drama i watch. And perfectly a good choice after all. Nakai change my mind about his acting. I thought Takuya is the only smappies that can act like this. But Nakai absolutely did it 100% perfect! Well, the sdtory is such a dark, dark drama. I can imagine myself in Eiryo, having a good time as a famous piano player in Japan but have to hide his identity and his secret. His career and his wealth doens't mean anything for him. Wish that this person didn't ever exist in this world
2. ping_bong
Excellent!! I haven't seen a really good drama for a long time! I really like the way how the director portrays the grey side of this society. It brings a new dimension to jdorama. I advise anyone who haven't seen this drama should go and see it=)
3. sahabat9
a slow and sad, nevertheless it's a great dorama... the sceneries and cinematography were great.. and never thought that nakai can play such a dark role.. the 2nd and last episodes were the best part.. it really make tears...
4. UWFShooter
Based on Seicho Matsumoto's 1961 classic, translated in English as "Inspector Imanishi Investigates." For a change of era, the story still looks good. Notice that the TV version is more from Waga's POV than Imanishi's.
5. oldasianguy
This drama could very well be my no.1 Japanese show...Spell-bounding!!!!!Sensational camera work to magnificant music!!!!No words can describe how awesome this drama was!!!!
6. russia
best drama i watched in a long long while, and that's just based on the 2nd half of the series. the 1st half is a bit boring. if not, i would give it a rating of 10/10
7. airabusmap
Best J-drama of 2004. Nakai Masahiro's performance is amazing and the story is very deep and emotional. Great drama. I'm going to watch it again and again.
8. kiwisannnn
So touching. Like a modern-day Crime and Punishment type of drama. Couldn't stop crying towards the end. Also has an excellent soundtrack!
9. takezo
One of the best tear jerkers of all time in j-dorama history. girlfriend and i cried like babies in the last episode...LOL
Dark, drama...beautiful scenery and music. Great cast, story, and acting.
11. ainakaikun
excellent drama. Nakai's best performance to date.
12. sucigam
See review.
13. yolande
14. cutehinano
15. siu dong
16. sodesuka
17. Ralbol
18. kamikaze54
19. kazuko-chan