A typhoon (Typhoon No. 10) attacked Shikoku Island and the Tyugoku area of Japan in 2004. This typhoon produced a new daily precipitation record of 1317 mm on Shikoku Island and triggered hundreds of landslides in Tokushima Prefecture. One catastrophic landslide was triggered in the Shiraishi area of Kisawa village, and destroyed more than 10 houses while also leaving an unstable block high on the slope. The unstable block kept moving after the event, showing accelerating and decelerating movement during and after rainfall and reaching a displacement of several meters before countermeasures were put into place. To examine the mechanism for this landsliding characteristic, samples (weathered serpentinite) were taken from the field, and their shear behaviours examined using ring shear tests. The test results revealed that the residual shear strength of the samples is positively dependent on the shear rate, which may provide an explanation for the continuous acceleratingdecelerating process of the landsliding. The roughness of the shear surface and the microstructure of the shear zone were measured and observed by laser microscope and SEM techniques in an attempt to clarify the mechanism of shear rate effect on the residual shear strength. Copyright ?? 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.