The safe-and-rescue operation started in the area. Region authorities urged the Japan Self-Defense Forces for assistance. The city art museum has converted into a shelter with at least 14 people evacuated.
"I heard a horrible sound and saw a mudslide flowing downwards as rescue workers were urging people to evacuate. So I ran to higher ground," the head of a temple near the disaster told Japanese media.
The footage posted on social media showed the moments when a torrent of mud obliterating buildings in Atami city.
"Because of the heavy rain, the ground loosened, and the mudslide occurred... it picked up speed and swept away houses together with people," Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu said.
At least 12.7 inches of rainfall hit the Shizuoka region in the last 48 hours, higher than the average monthly total for July.
A landslide engulfs houses and leaves 19 people missing in #Japan's #Shizuoka region, a local official says, following days of heavy rain Television footage shows a torrent of mud obliterating some buildings and burying others in #Atami city