Jonah Shibuya is a character in the Eden Pond Series.
Jonah’s paternal grandparents immigrated from Japan to the Tillamook Bay in 1905 at the end of the Russo-Japanese War, bringing with them their two children, a son Eiji and a daughter Natsuko. The Shibuyas bought a farm on the Miami River northeast of Garibaldi. Because they were Japanese, they were not welcomed by the local dairy community or cheese making organizations, so they grew vegetables and alfalfa. In 1915, Jonah’s father married Kaiya, the Nisei daughter of another Japanese immigrant family. Jonah was born in 1917, making him like his mother also Nisei, or second-generation Japanese-American.
Jonah’s Aunt Natsuko returned to Japan to marry in 1920, taking his grandmother with her. While Jonah’s grandmother planned only to stay in Japan for a short time, neither she nor Natsuko would ever return to the United States. Jonah had no memory of his aunt and grandmother, and knew them her only from occasional letters and a couple of photos.
His grandfather, Ichiro, died in 1925, at which time Jonah’s father Eiji took over the farm. The property itself had been deeded to Jonah, as an American citizen by birth, in 1920 after the passage of the California Alien Land Law. Though Oregon wouldn’t pass its own Alien Land Law until 1923, the Shibuya family could see the writing on the wall. Though Jonah was only three years old, he “owned” the Shibuya Farm through a trust managed first by his grandfather and then his father.
In May 1935 Jonah was denied access to the Garibaldi High School spring formal at the local grange hall because he was of Japanese descent. Eden, who had gone with him as his date, refused to go even though she was told she would be allowed to participate in the event without Jonah.
Eiji Shibuya would die as the result of a farming accident in August 1935 while Jonah and his mother were visiting her relatives in Los Angeles. Jonah returned to Garibaldi to take over the farm, while his mother Kaiya remained in California. A few months later, she would travel to Japan, never to return. Though born in the U.S., her family had kept Japanese tradition growing up, and without her husband she felt more comfortable with life in Japan. At the outbreak of World War II, Kaiya Shibuya was living in Hiroshima with Natsuko’s family.
Jonah learned of Oregon Governor Sprague’s order for all “enemy aliens” to register with the federal government in late January 1942. A few days later, he met with Merton in Garibaldi, at which time he offered to sell the farm to Merton for one dollar and the promise to look after his land and animals if he was taken away. The two completed the transaction without Eden’s knowledge, though later Merton admitted that he’d agreed to "look after the farm" for Jonah. Jonah then went into hiding, not telling anyone where he was.
Date of Birth: 9 May 1917
Date of Death: —
- Tillamook Guerillas (working title), Eden Pond Book 1