TODAY'S major earthquake went almost unnoticed in Niseko, registering only about 3 on the richter scale here.
The 8.9 quake – some 8000 times stronger than NZ's recent disaster – was centered hundreds of kilometers away off the Honshu coast and triggered a destructive tsunami 10m high in places.
The death toll currently stands at 350 but is certain to rise over coming weeks and the damages bill is sure to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tens of thousands of homes are lost. Hundreds of thousands without water, power and heat; and authorities in Tokyo expect more than a hundred thousand people stranded due to train cancellations will spend tonight unable to return home.
Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by this disaster.
Telephone services in Japan are overloaded and authorities are urging people to avoid using phones where possible as the system load is leading to great difficulties in contacting people.
If you're in Japan already, your best bet is to email home to let everyone know you're safe – or update your facebook page etc.
If you are trying from overseas to contact someone currently in Niseko, please rest assured that this area is almost unaffected by today's quake.
Due to phone system congestion, email is the most effective communication.
Thankfully, lift operations and life generally continue unaffected in Niseko.
The great spring skiing with more than a metre of snow over the past few days and blue skies means that those who are in town are having a great holiday.