"Everybody was like, 'Here we go again,' but then it got stronger, little by little, and then it was huge," Miyake told NBC New York by phone.
The 29-year-old New Yorker, whose parents live in Greenburgh, N.Y., said it soon became clear that this was no ordinary disaster. Subways and trains were soon halted in Tokyo, which is about 200 miles from where the quake hit.
He began making plans to spend the night at the office where he works as a pre-sales engineer for a security software company. Throughout the day, Miyake was able to track down his loved ones and confirm they were safe, but some of his co-workers were not able to locate relatives living near the epicenter of the quake.
As public transportation started moving again around 11 p.m. local time, he was able to take the train back to his home in Tokyo, about an hour-long ride.
Many others remain stranded because of all the transportation snarls, he said.
When Miyake arrived home, he found it wasn't damaged, apart from a broken mirror and a few items fallen from shelves.
It was a long and scary day.
"No one was expecting this," he said.