At 14.46 local time the north-eastern coast of Japan was hit by a huge earthquake.
The 8.9 magnitude quake is the biggest to strike Japan since records began.
Buildings in Tokyo, some 400 kilometres from the epicentre, rocked as the earthquake sent waves of devastation and fear across the capital.
Passengers on Tokyo’s underground screamed and held onto one another as the earth moved.
Witnesses claim it was difficult to stand.
Millions of homes are without power and transport has ground to a halt.
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has mobilised Self-Defence Forces and called on his country to “act calmly.”
Four of country’s nuclear facilities have been shut down safely, though reports suggest that a fire broke out at the Onagawa nuclear plant and Japanese media claim that a state of emergency has been declared.
Though there are no reports of radioactive leaks.
A blaze at one of the country’s leading refineries prompted a shut down as authorities deal with the scale of the disaster.
Japan’s government has announced that 300 army planes and 40 army ships are to be sent to help the rescue and recovery effort.
Thirty international search and rescue teams are are on stand-by to deploy to Japan, including medical teams and sniffer dogs.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, but the sheer scale of the quake is difficult to comprehend.