Tokyo earthquake

A really freakin’ big earthquake just hit Tokyo — strong enough to make tall buildings visibly shake around. My own office building (brand-new, finished last year) is still swaying like a ship on the high seas 20 minutes later. The force of the quake was enough to knock over one of the monitors on my desk.

From what I can see from the 17th floor, there is no major damage, though some smaller buildings have been evacuated and what look to be emergency response helicopters are circling overhead.

The quake was magnitude 7.9 centered in Tohoku. Nikkei is currently reporting that a tsunami of up to 6 meters is possible in that area, and USGS is warning of tsunami effects throughout the North Pacific as far as the west coast of North America. Hope our readers are OK.

[Edit by Roy below] People outside of Japan and/or without access to a TV should try Al Jazeera International’s high quality free stream to see the latest. They’re basically broadcasting the footage from NHK with experts at the USGS and such doing voiceover.

The get an idea of how massive this quake was, here in Kyoto – more than halfway across Honshu from the center, I felt my house shake for something like two minutes, although it was rather gentle and nothing even fell over. But even though it was not very strong here, it was still easily the longest quake I have ever experienced.

Please post your own personal observations or links to good live news sources in the comment thread.

[Update by Roy @5:00 pm]

Here is the Japanese Meteorological Agency tsunami warning map.

All place names that do not specify refer to the entire prefecture.

Regions with LARGE tsunami risk (red) are as follows:

Iwate, Miyagi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido Pacific coast central area, Aomori Pacific coast, Ibaraki, Chiba Kujukuri outskirts, Izu islands, Hokkaido Pacific East Coast, Hokkaido Pacific West Coast, Aomori Sea of Japan coast, Chiba interior, Ogasawara Islands, Sagami Bay and Miura Peninsula,  Shizuoka, Wakayama, Tokushima

Regions with REGULAR tsunami risk (orange) are as follows:

Aichi outer sea, Mie southern area, Kochi, Miyazaki, Tanegashima/Yakushima region, Amami/Tokara islands,  Hokkaido Sea of Japan southern coast, Mutsu Bay, Tokyo Bay inner bay, Ise, Mika Bay, Awaji southern region, Ehime Uwakai coast, Oita Seto Inland Sea coast, Oita Bungo Channel, Kagoshima East and West regions, Okinawa main island, Daito Islands, Miyakojima, Yaeyama Islands.

Regions with LOW level alert (yellow) are as follows:

Sea of Okhostsk, Osaka, Hyogo Seto Inland Sea coast, Okayama, Kagawa, Ehime Seto Inland Sea coast, Ariake/Yatsushiro Sea, Nagasaki western region, Kumamoto Amakusanada coast, Akita, Yamagata, Niigata Kaminaka and Kaetsuchi, Sado region, Toyama, Ishikawa Noto region, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi Seto Inland Sea coast.

Other regions do NOT have a tsunami warning or watch at this time.

[Update at 5:20]

I just heard that the Philippines raised their tsunami alert level to the highest in many years, NE coast, which faces Japan, will be hit in around 2 hours.

Here is a map from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing travel times for the tsunami to arrive at various areas, starting from the origin time of 2:45pm.


Areas in the Philippines with a level 2 (which is high) tsunami warning are as follows. Will start to hit between 5pm and 7pm local time. (From

• Batanes Group of Islands
• Cagayan
• Ilocos Norte
• Isabela
• Quezon
• Aurora
• Camarines Norte
• Camarines Sur
• Albay
• Catanduanes
• Sorsogon
• Northern Samar
• Eastern Samar
• Leyte
• Southern Leyte
• Surigao del Norte
• Surigao del Sur
• Davao Oriental
• Davao del Sur

Marianas islands and Russian Pacific coast also under high alert, Various Pacific island territories of Guam, Taiwan, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Micronesia and Hawaii are under a lower tsunami watch.

18 thoughts on “Tokyo earthquake”

  1. Nothing on the wires yet. Google has for at a 7.9 near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, 17 minutes ago. Tsunami warning. Stay safe, man.

  2. USGS said it was a 8.8, but I think Japan has its own scale that was slightly different so I’m not sure how to compare reports coming from Japan and US seismologists.

  3. 8.8 is about 7+ on the Jpn scale. The tsunami is huge, seeing the footage on TV and Al Jazeera.

    (no shaking here in Fukuoka)

  4. In other peripheral news, there was a rapid sell-off of yen in the market right after the quake. The JPY/USD rate shot up from 82.8 to 83.5 and then right back down…

  5. Man it is STILL shaking off and on. I just got in my apartment a little while ago.

    Around 2:40pm my building in downtown Tokyo just started swaying back and forth. After a few second we realized it was the real thing and the whole production team hid under our desks and put on our disaster helmets. Lasted maybe 3 minutes but felt like forever. I just kept trying to call Mrs. Adamu on my keitai but it wouldn’t connect. Thought this might be the end.

    Stayed in the office through a few aftershocks, then started walking home along with my American boss who is staying at my place tonight. Took about 4 hours altogether. Feet are very tired.

    Came home to find my computer monitor pushed off the desk and my two big sliding glass doors open slightly for some reason, but not much else wrong. Mrs. Adamu has to sleep at the office tonight but otherwise she is fine as is the rest of her family.

  6. For about 20 seconds there, I wasn’t sure if it was going to keep building and bring everything crashing down. Ended up walking home 40 km. Got lost. Got tired. Slow pace. Took 12 hours.

  7. Wow 40km! I probably would have stayed put at that distance.

    Hot water is restored, finally took a shower. Man that felt good. Still feeling aftershocks every so often.

    Tepco is telling people to keep electricity use to a minimum to prevent blackouts. Many power plants have shut down in addition to the ones in Fukushima with scary-sounding problems.

  8. I know. I should have. Today I got an ear full from the whole family about staying where you are at the proper shelter, then leaving after all is confirmed safe.

    The walk was absolutely surreal, though. At the time I knew it was going to be bad in Tohoku, but I had no idea just how bad until this morning.

    I figured that the trains would start and I’d hop on one so I started walking along the tracks, but they never started. So, I just kept walking using sky tree as a landmark because my phone got smashed in an inelastic collision with sometime much heavier, leaving me with no GPS. I was against the flow of foot traffic leaving tokyo, which was the only thing flowing because the roads were absolutely jammed. I walked for hours and hours through total gridlock that was backed up into all the side streets. People were even pushing their scooters because the gridlock was too much to weave in and out of. I passed a donki that was open and in the process of selling out of bicycles. Saw a guy on a sport bike come around a corner, jam the throttle for no apparent reason, spin out and lay it down on the pavement, get up nervously half bowing his head at all the people staring at him. That was weird.

    I actually at some point found my self scanning all the bikes along my route for one that was unlocked. If I’d found one, I would have had a bit of a dilemma, but (un)fortunately, none were… um… available.

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