A strong quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 shook Costa Rica on Sunday night, knocking items from shelves and sending people rushing outside in panic.
Otto Vargas, a university professor in San Jose who was at home with his family, said: "We're very scared".
The quake hit 294km southeast of the city of Kamaishi at a depth of 9.5km.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami alert.
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It was initially was measured at a magnitude of 6.7 and happened about 44 miles southwest of the capital at a depth of 6.2 miles.
Costa Rica's National Emergency Commission said it is monitoring the situation.
Media in neighboring Panama and Nicaragua said the natural disaster was felt on their territories too, but no damage was detected.