Mike Maki（マイク眞木) is a name I've heard now and then in these music retrospectives that often pop up on Japanese TV. And even at the age of 68, he still turns up on the odd variety program, always as the straight man alongside the wacky Osaka comedians who always populate these shows. He's also been an actor on a number of these trendy dramas; the one I remember is "Beach Boys", a popular Fuji-TV serial that had Maki play an old surfer dude.
However, he started showbiz life in 1963 by starting a band called The Modern Folk Quartet (probably adapted from The Modern Jazz Quartet in America), and then he started a solo career with this song, "Bara ga Saita"(A Rose Bloomed). Known as the first Japanese-made folk song hit (written and composed by Kuranosuke Hamaguchi/浜口庫之助), according to the author/webmaster of "Hamadayama Life", OKA, in his article "Japanese Popular Songs Between 1945-1970", he mentions that the song isn't particularly sophisticated. And I'm not particularly surprised. I think when it came to adopting American musical forms at that time, it was more about style over substance. But that was OK with the Japanese since the song managed to sell over 300,000 records. Folk music had existed before this song came along but this song succeeded because it was lyrically simple (the translated lyrics are available near the bottom of the article) and just illustrates a simple truth about that lone rose blooming in the garden: when it came to pure pop music, listeners just wanted a pleasant melody with uncomplicated wording (a policy that continued far into the 80s) For the more complex stuff, they turned to enka and the message folk songs.
"Bara ga Saita"is, in fact, so simple that I thought it was originally a children's song. I've often heard it sung at kindergarten in Japan. (May 5 2018: Strangely enough, a commenter informed me that there is a kid's song, "One Little Finger" that sounds fairly similar.)
Now, as for the last piece of trivia for Mike Maki. He happens to be married to late 80s singer, Kanako Wada （和田加奈子）。