Ohtaki was probably feeling like a happy father when he created “Aozora no You ni”, seeing as the vocal credits in the liner notes say “Papa Ohtaki”. What a sweet song this is, comparing a child to a clear sunny day. No room for horror stories about tantrums or destruction of valuables here. It’s all happy memories. The music makes me picture a preschooler rolling down a green hill with a huge grin on his face. And speaking of smiles, the key line of the song, “niko niko gao” (ニコニコ顔…smiley face), has such a nice ring to it. I always found Japanese onomatopoeia charming.
For me, June has corresponded with some important occasions relating to teaching experiences with children. First, I said goodbye to my students in Japan in 2014, and this year, it aligns with me obtaining my teaching qualifications at home after several months of practice teaching. For both of these moments, I would recall the fun my students and I had and how we helped each other grow through the process. Hearing this June track from “Niagara Calendar” just makes those memories come out in full force and puts a wide smile on my face. Niko niko gao indeed. I have a feeling I’ll be remembering this tune again and again when going into June of every school year because that’s when students in Ontario complete their grade level and some graduate. Better be ready for those hugs and doodles smothered in bright colors.