A powerful tsunami triggered by the Mw 9.0 Tohoku earthquake struck the northern Pacific coast of Japan in 2011, destroying several coastal communities in Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and Fukushima Prefecture. Here, we investigate a new spatio-temporal slip model (model B) developed by the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan. This slip model was compared against the non-uniform slip model estimated using tsunami waveform data (model A). We focused our analysis on two areas that were destroyed by the tsunami. The town of Onagawa and the coastal Sendai Plain area were selected because they were located in front of the epicentre, where the most significant slips were registered. Our simulation results revealed that the spatio-temporal slip distribution better replicated the observed data. Regarding the tsunami waveforms from the coastal tide gauge station and offshore stations, the Cabinet Office’s slip model showed an approximately 30% better accuracy relative to the non-uniform slip model. Furthermore, by comparing the local inundation features at two locations with unique topographic and coastal morphological characteristics, we also found that model B better replicated the measured inundation depths. Finally, considering that tsunami-induced damage is a direct function of various inundation features such as the flow depth and flow velocity, this new slip model can generate more realistic damage scenarios for future tsunami assessments.