HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pieper Toyama remembers the height of the COVID pandemic, and not being allowed to do much, so he began writing.

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“So I wrote these stories but these are stories I told many, many times over, family stories, all my kids know, my wife has heard a million times,” said author Pieper Toyama.

He shared the stories on social media, with a Facebook group of people who grew up just like he did, on a sugar plantation in Hawaii.

“The plantation I grew up during that time we were making a transition to second to third generation. So, yes, I went to school without shoes until the sixth grade,” said Toyama. “In our plantation, everything was in walking distance, so you could walk to the store, to the post office, to the gym, to the park to school and to church.”

The 77-year-old continued sharing his stories from the sugar plantation of the Hamakua Mill Company on the Big Island. After much encouragement, he compiled his memories into this book, “Family Stories from the Plantation and Beyond.”

Pieper Toyama turns childhood memories at Hawaii sugar plantations to new book.
Pieper Toyama turns childhood memories at Hawaii sugar plantations to new book.

“Plantation life is gone and I’m the last generation who really lived plantation life and I realized in my 70s, these are stories that are not being lived anymore,” said Toyama.

While the first half of the book contains plantation day memories, the second half tells of how that way of life, affected his later years on the mainland. For example, seeing different type of buildings, experiencing snow and meeting and marrying his wife.

“I love it, it’s fun because I get to tell stories,” said Toyama.

That’s why Toyama, who retired as head of school for the Pacific Buddhist Academy, is working on his second book. It will include more stories and memories of a time long gone, but not forgotten.

“When you get to my age, you get to realize life is hard and serious at times, but most of it, is fun, humorous and filled with laughter,” said Toyama.

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Toyama’s book can be found at local book stores on Oahu and the Big Island as well as Amazon.com.