By WILLIAM SPOSATO And GEORGE NISHIYAMA
TOKYO—A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan on Friday afternoon, unnerving residents in a region hit last year by a devastating quake and nuclear accident.
No deaths were directly caused by the earthquake, but one person was seriously injured and 10 suffered minor injuries, according to the National Police Agency.
The quake at 5:18 p.m. was centered off Miyagi prefecture, the same area as the massive March 11, 2011, 9-magnitude quake that devastated the region and left more than 18,000 dead or missing. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the latest quake could be considered an aftershock of that and was the biggest since July 10 when another 7.3-magnitude struck along the same fault line.
"It brought back the memories of the March earthquake. It felt very long, almost like two minutes," said Emiko Chiba, who runs the Sakari Ryokan inn in Ishinomaki in the prefecture. "The shaking was not as big as last time, but I felt scared."
The quake could be felt as far away as the southern island of Kyushu, more than 600 miles from Ms. Chiba's inn, officials said.
In Tokyo, about 190 miles south of Miyagi prefecture, office buildings swayed under the shocks.
The quake spawned a series of tsunamis of up to three feet, but officials said there were no reports of any flooding caused by the waves. The 2011 quake produced widespread waves of more than 30 feet—and some with crests of up to 100 feet—which caused the vast majority of the casualties.
The concerns of large-scale tsunamis prompted calls for evacuation, employing lessons learned from the 2011 disaster. In strident voices—a sharp contrast to the normally staid tone—announcers on national broadcaster NHK warned residents in low-lying areas near the coast to immediately seek higher ground.
One urged viewers to recall the March 2011 earthquake, raising his voice and repeatedly warning residents in the affected areas to "run for your lives."
NHK had decided to change the way it relayed the dangers of tsunamis following last year's disaster, in which it was believed that the calm tones of announcers failed to convey the urgency of the situation.
All tsunami warnings were lifted within two hours of the initial shocks.
The latest quake was centered 150 miles off the coastline, farther out to sea than the March 2011 quake, which struck 80 miles offshore.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power facility heavily damaged in the 2011 quake, said that its monitoring facilities were in place and that it hadn't detected anything unusual at the plant, which is now shut down. Tohoku Electric Power Co. said the three reactors at its Onagawa plant appear to have suffered no damage. The units are currently idled, like all but two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors.
Sendai Airport, serving the capital of Miyagi prefecture and badly flooded in 2011, was closed by the quake, an employee said, with passengers moving to higher floors of the terminal building.
"It had been a while [since a quake hit], but when the shaking got quite strong, I thought, 'Oh, here we go again,' " she said.
East Japan Railway stopped its shinkansen bullet-train services in northern Japan. Tokyo's Narita Airport was briefly closed following the quake, but was then reopened to traffic.
Hirofumi Ozaki, a 29-year-old salesman who lives in Sendai, said he was driving on a car-clogged highway when the quake hit. "I received a warning on my mobile phone for the first time in a while," he said. "I was wondering whether there would be a tsunami and whether the road could collapse."
Financial markets showed little immediate concern; the yen rose briefly but then fell back to previous levels.—Kana Inagaki, Eleanor Warnock and Kosaku Narioka contributed to this article.