Tsunami fragility functions describe the probability of structural damage due to tsunami flow characteristics. Fragility functions developed from past tsunami events (e.g., the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami) are often applied directly, without modification, to other areas at risk of tsunami for the purpose of damage and loss estimations. Consequentially, estimates carry uncertainty due to disparities in construction standards and coastal morphology between the specific region for which the fragility functions were originally derived and the region where they are being used. The main objective of this study is to provide an alternative approach to assessing tsunami damage, especially for buildings in regions where previously developed fragility functions do not exist. A damage assessment model is proposed in this study, where load-resistance analysis is performed for each building by evaluating hydrodynamic forces, buoyancies and debris impacts and comparing them to the resistance forces of each building. Numerical simulation was performed in this study to reproduce the 2011 Great East Japan tsunami in Ishinomaki, which is chosen as a study site. Flow depths and velocities were calculated for approximately 20 000 wooden buildings in Ishinomaki. Similarly, resistance forces (lateral and vertical) are estimated for each of these buildings. The buildings are then evaluated for their potential of collapsing. Results from this study reflect a higher accuracy in predicting building collapse when using the proposed load-resistance analysis, as compared to previously developed fragility functions in the same study area. Damage is also observed to have likely occurred before flow depth and velocity reach maximum values. With the above considerations, the proposed damage model might well be an alternative for building damage assessments in areas that have yet to be affected by modern tsunami events.