Hundreds of thousands of people in Japan have been told to leave their homes as typhoon Roke is heading to the city of Nagoya and is causing heavy rain amid fears of landslides and flash flooding.

Authorities in the central city of Nagoya advised 400,000 residents to evacuate as fears that rivers might burst their banks are mounting, Jiji Press news agency said.

As the evacuation is not compulsory it is not known yet how many people have taken the authorities' advice on board.

The eye of Roke, was about 1,016 kilometres (631 miles) southwest of Tokyo at 1 p.m. local time today. It was packing wind speeds of 144 kilometres per hour (89 miles), with gusts of up to 198 kilometres per hour.

Typhoon Roke, which is categorized as "strong" by the Japan Meteorological Agency was Tuesday on course to south-western Japan and is expected to hit the main island of Honshu on Wednesday, the weather agency said.

The storm has already dumped 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain over the past 24 hours on the southern province of Miyazaki and the weather agency has warned as much as 50 millimetres of rain could fall in an hour in certain areas of the country on Wednesday.

NKH showed footage of roads under water in the western city of Kobe and reported that another 23,000 people living in western Japan had been advised to seek shelter away from possible flood and landslide areas.

Roke comes just a few weeks after Japan was hit by Japan was hit by Typhoon Talas which left around 100 people dead or missing, mostly in the west of the country.