A powerful mudslide has torn through dozens of homes in Atami, 100 kilometres from Tokyo, after heavy rain on Saturday.
At least nineteen people are known to be missing, officials say, and they fear that figure may rise to as high as a hundred.
As many as 80 homes were completely buried, according to an official with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Torrential rains have been hitting parts of Japan since earlier in the week. Experts said dirt had been loosened, increasing landslide risks in a country filled with valleys and mountains.
Atami is a seaside resort area hot springs, residential areas, shopping streets and a famous shrine.