Friday’s massive earthquake caught the Pacific nation by surprise. But the cameras were rolling.
See what the Japanese people were seeing as buildings rocked throughout Japan, causing widespread damage and stirring up a tsunami.
(More on TIME.com: See pictures of the quake in Japan)
Workers in an office in Sendai City, just inland from the epicenter of the earthquake in northeast Japan, met with violent shaking as the quake hit. Employees clutched desks and other stable objects for safety as flimsy furniture toppled. Even Tokyo government employees, more than 150 miles from the quake’s center, encountered slight shaking.
Tsunami waves stirred up by the quake in Onahama, a port city in eastern Japan, swept away boats and cars as if they were children’s toys. Water also washed inland to inundate farmland and homes for miles.
(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 deadliest earthquakes)
An American expat is caught off-guard by the quake in his small apartment. He grabs his camera and slides under his desk for safety while narrating the horrific scene. The shaking continues for more than a minute as his shelves empty and his TV crashes to the floor. WARNING: His language is very explicit – as can be expected mid-earthquake.
A woman cowers in the street as the ground beneath her trembles. The videographer, quick to hit the record button, encounters incessant shaking in a quiet neighborhood as he paces around with the camera – and believe us, the shaking is not for lack of a tripod. (via CBS)
(More on TIME.com: See why Japan leads on disaster preparedness)
Shoppers at a Japanese mall are stunned by the temblor while employees try to contain the damage by holding up the shelves.
The waves swept a trail of destruction and devastation over the once-quiet landscape of central Japan.
ABC’s Japanese news correspondent sounds off about the fearful moments post-quake.
(More on TIME.com: See the best pictures of the week)