Tanaka was born in Okinawa Prefecture on 3 March 1900. As a centenarian, she would knit sweaters for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, continuing until the age of 103.
At the age of 105, Tanaka was reported to be the oldest living person in Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture. At the time, she lived with her second son, her daughter-in-law, her grandchildren, and her two great-grandchildren in Edocho, Shimabara. She was rarely ill, and didn’t take any medication. She was eating healthily three times a day, and liked watching her favourite drama.
On 20 July 2010, aged 110, Tanaka became the oldest person in Nagasaki following the death of 112-year-old Shika Shimada. In 2012, Tanaka would become the oldest person ever in Nagasaki after surpassing the age of 112 years, 221 days reached by Rin Aoyagi in 1991.
Tanaka died on 30 July 2013 aged 113 years, 149 days. Her successor as Nagasaki’s oldest living person was 110-year-old Shizu Okabe, who died three days later.