Tanabe was born in 1970 in Toyama, Japan. At age 18, he attended art school where he studied painting and illustration. After, Tanabe became a freelance illustrator. He produced artwork for advertising campaigns as well as work for magazines in Tokyo. It wasn’t until 1999, that Tanabe studied extensively in Japanese, traditional brush method. A year later (in 2000), he exhibited his brushwork in the U.S. He currently resides and works in New York.