The dense networks of strong-ground-motion instruments in Japan (K-NET and KiK-net) provide a means of direct visualization of regional wave propagation during large earthquakes. For the 2000 Tottori-ken Seibu earthquake (Mw 6.6) in western Japan, snapshots of ground motion, derived directly from interpolation of a large number of array observations, demonstrate clearly the nature of the source radiation and the character of the seismic wave field propagating to regional distances. In western Japan the wave field from the earthquake is characterized, in most parts, by the dominance of high-frequency (0.2–5 Hz) Lg waves on three-component acceleration records and longer-period (T ∼ 10 sec) fundamental-mode Love waves in tangential displacement. The presence of strong lateral variations in the crust and upper-mantle structures, such as the low-velocity superficial layer and the high-velocity Philippine Sea plate with shallow subduction into the mantle, impose significant modifications on the regional wave field. Further insight into the nature of the seismic wave field is gained by comparison of the observations with numerical simulation for a 3D model, including sedimentary basins by an embedded submesh. A multigrid, parallel computation using a hybrid Pseudospectral/Finite Difference Method allows the inclusion of a realistic model of the source process for the 2000 Tottori-Ken Seibu earthquake. There is good agreement in the dominant features of the regional wave field propagating through the complex structure of western Japan. However, the differences between the observations and the computer simulations indicates the need for further refinement of the source and structural models. The inclusion of amplification effects for the population centers in sedimentary basins means that the modeling procedure is already suitable for estimating the main pattern of ground motion for future earthquake scenarios.

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