Dr. Tanaka was born in 1947 in Yamaguchi, Japan, but moved to California at the age of eleven in 1958 with his Japanese American parents. He attended public schools in Mountain View, California, and was introduced to Buddhism at the Mt. View Buddhist Temple, where he attended Sunday school and Young Buddhist Association (YBA).

After graduating from Stanford in 1970 with a degree in Cultural Anthropology, he took a year-long journey around the world that included a stint as a monk in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He then entered the M.A. program at Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, California, to pursue Buddhist studies.

In Japan, he studied at Tokyo University where he earned a M.A. in Indian Philosophy, followed by his ordination at Kyoto in 1978 as Shin Buddhist minister. Returning to the U.S., he earned a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at Univ. of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Tanaka's first professional position was at IBS, where he spent 11 years on its staff, serving much of the time as Assistant Dean and Associate Professor. He then took a leave for 3 years to become the resident minister at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church.

In 1998, he was appointed professor at Musashino University, Tokyo, where he has been teaching a Buddhist class entitled "the Principles of Interdependence" to over 400 students a year. He has also taught courses at Tokyo University and Ryukoku University.

He currently serves as president of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies (IASBS), and as a board member of the Association of Buddhist Christian Studies. He recently produced and appeared in a weekly year-long Buddhist T.V. program, sponsored by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. This program was aired in Los Angeles on Sundays in 2005; its DVDs are being distributed to religious and educational institutions throughout the world.
Brief Biography of Dr. Kenneth K. Tanaka