At least one person has been killed and several injured as Typhoon Hagibis approached central Japan with hurricane-force winds on Saturday.
Tokyo and surrounding areas braced for a powerful typhoon forecast as the worst in six decades, with streets and train stations unusually quiet as rain poured over the city.
Store shelves were bare after people stocked up on water and food. Nearby beaches had not a surfer in sight, only towering dashing waves.
Typhoon Hagibis, closing in from the Pacific, is expected to bring up to 80cm of rain in the Tokyo area, including Chiba to the north that had suffered power outages from a typhoon that hit last month, and some buildings remained partly repaired.
Under gloomy skies, a tornado ripped through Chiba on Saturday, overturning a car in the city of Ichihara and killing a man inside, city official Tatsuya Sakamaki said. Five people were also injured when the tornado ripped through a house. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Sakamaki said.
The rains caused rivers to swell, flipped anchored boats and whipped up sea waters in a dangerous surge along the coast, flooding some residential neighborhoods and leaving people to wade in ankle-deep waters and cars floating.
In Shizuoka prefecture, one of two men who went missing in the Nishikawa River was rescued, Gotemba city official Fumihiko Katsumata said. Firefighters said the two men were working at a river canal to try to control overflowing when they were swept away.
Yusuke Ikegaya, a Shizuoka resident, was lucky and evacuated to safety. He said he was surprised because he had been told the typhoon was landing in the afternoon but noticed the nearby river about to overflow in the morning.
"In the 28 years of my life, this is the first time I've had to evacuate even before a typhoon has landed," he said.
Authorities also warned of mudslides, common in mountainous Japan.
Rugby World Cup matches, concerts and other events have been cancelled. Flights were grounded and train services halted. Authorities acted quickly, with warnings issued earlier this week, including urging people to stay indoors.
Some residents taped up their apartment windows in case they shattered. TV talk shows aired footage of household items like a slipper bashing through glass when hurled by winds as powerful as the approaching typhoon.
The typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 left more than 1200 people dead and a half-million houses flooded.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet held a disaster management meeting on Friday. He said 17,000 police and military troops were ready for rescue operations.
"The typhoon could cause power outages, damage to infrastructure and significantly affect people's lives," Abe said.
Hagibis, which means "speed" in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 162km/h, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It was expected to make landfall near Tokyo later on Saturday and then pass out to sea eastward.
Evacuation advisories have been issued for risk areas, including Shimoda city, west of Tokyo. Dozens of evacuation centres were opening in coastal towns, and people were resting on gymnasium floors, saying they hoped their homes were still there after the storm passed.
The storm has disrupted this nation's three-day weekend, which includes Sports Day on Monday. Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday. The Defence Ministry cut a three-day annual navy review to a single day on Monday.
All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights scheduled for Saturday at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports. Central Japan Railway Co said it will cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka. Tokyo Disneyland was closed.