My family in Japan is safe. Thank you for asking. As Shirley said, it's happening too often, isn't it?
In Japan we use a scale of our own, and around Miyagi Pref, the quake was around Scale 7, which neither Ben nor I had ever heard of; at least we don't remember a Scale 7 in recent years, This region is one of the quake-prone regions and when I was a student they had at least one really big one.
Around Yokohama was Scale 5. Normally, this is scary but not dangerous. I remember the last time I was in a Scale 5, a good friend and I were having a night out in the town. We were walking near a railway over-bridge, (the train goes above us?) and she halted and shouted. I replied, "No, it's just the train passing," to which a nice policeman called out, "This is a big one, Miss." I only remember many liquor stores suffering great damage, but not much else.
This time, however, even the same Scale 5 appears to have been more serious. I got through to my brother via the Internet quite quickly because he was in the office, but the cell network was totally down, land line sporadic; my sister got a hold of me three hours after the fact; my parents had finally gotten through to her via an old-fashioned pay phone.
My parents were in a mall, a new and safe building. Since the area around the mall has buildings, and since all trains had stopped, they asked customers to stay inside. I don't know for how long, but I'm chuckling at the idea of Dad having to spend the night in a mall! At least they have food, running water, and Ben reminded me, massage chairs!
My brother-in-law is safe but he's having to spend the night in his office. My mother is a fanatic when it comes to making homes quake-safe. My sister said nothing fell in her house, and nothing broke; a good thing considering they have an impressive little collection of ceramics.
All things considered, my family came out unscathed. But pockets of Yokohama and Tokyo, and the greater northern region, not so.
EDIT: I still can't ring any of them, so I sit and hope they can get through to me, or get on the Internet.
It turned out my parents did spend the night at the mall, and went home on 5.53AM train, to find not even a picture frame was out of place there. Almost reverse-shocking.
My sister-in-law stayed overnight at her office, but brother and niece stayed at her parents' house, 5 minutes away from his house, and a condo in a new building. But the blue ribbon goes to my brother-in-law, who not only waked home from work, 4.5 hours, but had contemplated this kind of an eventuality and had mapped out a route home before the event. My sister would have preferred he stayed put in a safe place; she is happy and furious.
Power supply in parts of Yokohama is running low, so everybody is prepared for the possibility of power cut tonight. Otherwise, my family, and Ben's, are all accounted for, with no scratches. Thank you again for your concern.