Purple flower pins stood out from the right side of her short, white hair as she made her way through her party in a wheelchair decorated with faux pink and white flowers, tinsel and foil stars.
She clapped her way into her big day and stopped to kiss the hands of well wishers before singing a birthday song.
Tanaka has dreamed of being the record holder for the world’s oldest person since she turned 100, CBS News reported. The seventh of eight children cried tears of joy when she was handed two plaques last year for being the world’s oldest living person and the world’s oldest living woman.
She told reporters it was the most exciting moment of her life, according to Guinness World Records footage of the event.
Strawberry treats and a box of chocolates, which she quickly tore into, were part of her recognition ceremony.
“I am grateful for all of you coming and giving me a lot of these gifts,” she said, clasping her hands in gratitude before telling celebrators that she was ready to dance.
When the military called up her husband in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Tanaka got more involved in her in-laws’ family business of making and selling sticky rice, Japanese sweets and udon noodles, according to Guinness World Records.
Her hustling allowed her to take care of her five children and mother-in-law in her husband’s absence.
Tanaka keeps her mind sharp by rising at 6 a.m. and studying math in the afternoon. One of her favorite pastimes is mastering the board game Othello, a game in which she often bests care staff.
The board game champion still has five years until she’s able to reach another record: becoming the world’s oldest person ever. That title is held by French woman Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at age 122 in 1997, according to Guinness World Records.
For now, Tanaka is enjoying life’s treats.
The spoonful of her 117th birthday treat was “tasty,” she said. “I want more.”