Kawachi-no-suke Tanaka was born in 1815 in Tajima (Hyogo Prefecture), to a family of physicians.
He first opened a private school (1840) and then entered the services of the Nakayamas as an instructor. When Commodore Perry came to Japan, Kawachi together with Tadanaru Nakayama plotted against the Shogunate and tried to attack Hisamitsu Shimazu, Lord of Satsuma, but the plotters were ambushed at the Teradaya Inn in Kyoto and sent to Kagoshima under arrest. On his way there Kawachi was killed by members of the Satsuma Clan.
He married the daughter of one of Nakayama's clansmen.