Strong spatial variation of rupture characteristics in the moment magnitude (M(w)) 9.0 Tohoku-Oki megathrust earthquake controlled both the strength of shaking and the size of the tsunami that followed. Finite-source imaging reveals that the rupture consisted of a small initial phase, deep rupture for up to 40 seconds, extensive shallow rupture at 60 to 70 seconds, and continuing deep rupture lasting more than 100 seconds. A combination of a shallow dipping fault and a compliant hanging wall may have enabled large shallow slip near the trench. Normal faulting aftershocks in the area of high slip suggest dynamic overshoot on the fault. Despite prodigious total slip, shallower parts of the rupture weakly radiated at high frequencies, whereas deeper parts of the rupture radiated strongly at high frequencies.