Nothing is known about Gintoki's biological parents. As a child, he looted food from corpses in the battlefield to the point of being known as a "corpse-eating demon." During one of his searches, whilst eating a riceball stolen from a corpse in a deserted battlefield, he was found by Yoshida Shouyou, who commented that Gintoki was a "cute demon." Startled, Gintoki drew a sword he had stolen off another dead body in self-defense. However, Shouyou told him that a sword used for self-defense, while fearing others, should be thrown away. He then entrusted his sword to Gintoki, saying that he could follow him if he wanted to learn how to use a sword. Gintoki agreed and later became his student. Along with Katsura Kotarou and Takasugi Shinsuke, he studied swordplay under the teachings of Shouyou.