Woman in the Dunes ()

Suna no onna (original title)
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An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.

  • Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 1 nomination.
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Entomologist Niki Jumpei
Hiroko Itô ...
Entomologist's wife (in flashbacks)
Sen Yano
Ginzô Sekiguchi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
? (rumored)
Kiyohiko Ichihara
Hiroyuki Nishimoto
Tamotsu Tamura

Directed by

Hiroshi Teshigahara

Written by

Kôbô Abe ... (novel)
Kôbô Abe ... (screenplay)
Eiko Yoshida ... (scripter)

Produced by

Kiichi Ichikawa ... producer
Tadashi Ôno ... producer

Music by

Tôru Takemitsu

Cinematography by

Hiroshi Segawa

Film Editing by

Fusako Shuzui

Production Design by

Tôtetsu Hirakawa
Masao Yamazaki

Production Management

Iwao Yoshida ... production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Masuo Ogawa ... assistant director

Sound Department

Ichirô Katô ... sound recordist
Keiji Mori ... sound effects editor
Shigenosuke Okuyama ... sound recordist

Camera and Electrical Department

Mitsuo Kume ... lighting technician
Yasuhiro Yoshioka ... still photographer

Additional Crew

Kiyoshi Awazu ... title designer

Production Companies




Special Effects


Other Companies



Plot Summary

Jumpei Niki, a Tokyo based entomologist and educator, is in a poor seaside village collecting specimens of sand insects. As it is late in the day and as he has missed the last bus back to the city, some of the local villagers suggest that he spend the night there, they offering to find him a place to stay. That place is the home of a young woman, whose house is located at the bottom of a sand pit accessible only by ladder. He later learns that the woman's husband and child died in a sandstorm, their undiscovered bodies buried somewhere near the house. The next morning as he tries to leave, he finds that the ladder is gone - he realizing that the ladder he climbed down was a rope ladder which is anchored above the pit - meaning that he is trapped with the young woman as the walls of the pit are sand with no grip. He also realizes that this entrapment was the villagers and the young woman's plan for him to stay there permanently to be her helper in the never-ending task of digging out the sand, which if not done will swallow them alive. They are dependent upon the villagers to help remove the sand, but also for their rations including water. He learns that the sand is the young woman's life, and that she knows or wants no other life. Thus, it is no use either to blackmail or kill her as she is willing to live and die by this life, and as such he will surely die if she is dead. His life tasks become to figure out a way to escape while co-exist with the woman in what he considers their prison. As time goes on, he also learns that there are other tasks which will consume him. Written by Huggo

Plot Keywords
Taglines The most provocative picture ever made. See more »
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Additional Details

Also Known As
  • 砂の女 (Japan, Japanese title)
  • Woman in the Dunes (World-wide, English title)
  • Woman in the Dunes (United States)
  • Woman in the Dunes (Singapore, English title)
  • Woman in the Dunes (Canada, English title)
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  • 147 min
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Filming Locations

Did You Know?

Trivia For this film, Hiroshi Teshigahara became the first Japanese director to be nominated for a Oscar for directing. See more »
Goofs The beard of teacher Jumpei is not growing, despite him even complaining about no opportunity to shorten it. See more »
Movie Connections Featured in Music for the Movies: Tôru Takemitsu (1994). See more »
Quotes Entomologist Niki Jumpei: The certificates we use to make certain of one another: contracts, licenses, ID cards, permits, deeds, certifications, registrations, carry permits, union cards, testimonials, bills, IOUs, temporary permits, letters of consent, income statements, certificates of custody, even proof of pedigree. Is that all of them? Have I forgotten any? Men and women are slaves to their fear of being cheated. In turn they dream up new certificates to prove their innocence. No one can say where it will end. They seem endless.
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