Toyoshige was a pupil of Toyokuni I (1769-1825), the head of the Utagawa school and later married his master's daughter. Until 1826 he used the name Toyoshige. After the death of Toyokuni I he became the new head of the Utagawa school. This infuriated Kunisada who thought he was a better ukiyo-e designer and therefore he should be the head of the school. The conflict between Kunisada and Toyokuni's son-in-law was ultimately solved in 1835 when Toyokuni II died. After his death Kunisada became the new head of the Utagawa school and proudly called himself Toyokuni.