As the tsunami slammed onto the land, Sato watched from her hilltop home in the distance as the surging water engulfed the walls and crashed over the top of four-story-high buildings.
Sato grabbed her grandmother and started running up a pathway behind her home to the tsunami refuge where she saw a number of people leaving it for even higher ground up the hill. "Run!" she heard someone scream. "The water is coming! It's getting higher!" shouted another.
Sato ran up the hill past a Shinto shrine, past a cemetery and kept going, finally stopping by a cell phone tower, out of breath, she told the AP.
The tsunami wave swept over the refuge the group had left below them, picking up and tossing around 16 cars that had been parked there.