OK, for all you J-Pop fans, this isn't the "Mafuyu no Kaeri Michi" (Mid-Winter Road Home) by 90s songbird Kohmi Hirose（広瀬香美）. You can check out my 2014 article on that song here.
Instead, I will be talking about the "Mafuyu no Kaeri Michi" by Group Sounds band The Launchers（ザ・ランチャーズ）.
Now before I launch (ahem) into this song, I did want to give out a heads-up and say that Noelle is in the middle of preparing an article about a song involving Yuzo Kayama & The Launchers so that will probably come out within the next number of days.
To tell you a story that I was able to glean from The Launchers' bio on J-Wiki, when Yuzo Kayama（加山雄三）had just started his "Wakadaisho"（若大将）movie franchise as The Big Man on Campus in the early 1960s, producer Masumi Fujimoto（藤本真澄）told the young actor/singer to get a band together so that he and the band can be filmed in future entries of the series. Kayama managed to rustle together a bunch of young guys from among the Toho Studios' group of actors and so The Launchers were born as a 6-member unit in 1962.
However, according to what I read, the band members eventually found themselves wanted in other movie projects so that the first incarnation of The Launchers was stopped for the time being. But then a couple of years later, Kayama corralled another group of guys to form the second coming of The Launchers in 1964. The Launchers 2.0 consisted of the brothers Osamu & Ei Kitajima（喜多嶋修・喜多嶋瑛）, who also happened to be Kayama's cousins, plus Shigeru Ohya（大矢茂）with Kayama as the leader. I think Noelle will be talking about Kayama and those Launchers in her article.
In 1967, The Launchers 3.0 came about with Kayama leaving and bassist Yuzo Watanabe（渡辺有三）joining the band. And their debut single was "Mafuyu no Kaeri Michi", a laid back GS ballad written by Tetsu Mizushima（水島哲）and composed by band member Osamu Kitajima. It's a very pleasant song which will induce some good nostalgia within the senior citizens. This time, it's the guy who is getting his heart stuck in his throat as he tries to blurt out his feelings toward a young lady he's gotten sweet on. I guess it's just as well that he wants to confess his love in the heart of winter; he probably would have died of heatstroke in the summer.
"Mafuyu no Kaeri Michi" was a big hit for The Launchers as it peaked at No. 23 on Oricon. Along with that debut, the band released 5 more singles and 2 albums before they broke up in 1971.
The song has been covered by a number of artists over the decades. One such group was Candies（キャンディーズ）whose own version was recorded onto Disc 10 of the massive 2008 "Candies Time Capsule" CD-BOX collection. Disc 10 happens to be an enlarged version of the original 2nd live concert album from December 1976, "Kuramae Kokugikan Ichiman-nin Carnival Vol. 2 - Candies Live"（蔵前国技館10,000人カーニバルVol.2 キャンディーズ・ライブ...Kuramae Kokugikan Sumo Arena Ten-Thousand-Man Carnival Vol. 2 - Candies Live）.