Backcountry Ski Hokkaido history

Journey into Japan was founded by Australian adventurer John Morrell. John has had a passion for adventure since he was a child and a passion for Japan since 1981, when he first explored Hokkaido. His first trip to Hokkaido was meant to be a side trip while on his way to ski in Canada.

John didn't get to Canada for another 10 years! Most of that time he spent exploring Japan's culture and its wild areas, studying Japanese and running ski tours to his secret powder stashes. During this time he managed a rare telemark ski descent of icy Mt. Fuji (3775 M) amongst other adventures.

John is first and foremost a skier and cyclist and he finds Japan can truly sate these two passions. The powder in Hokkaido has been said to be the best in the world. The best way to test that is for you to come and try it yourself. The cycling is superb, with hot mix bitumen roads and in most places chosen for our bike tours, very little traffic.

The Journey into Japan philosophy is centrally about discovery. This discovery can be cultural or adventure based. With this in mind, western hotels are mostly avoided (except where essential at airport stopovers and some rural locations), and the tours take you away from the crowds to remote corners of Japan. Accommodation is in Japanese Inns and Japanese food, at it's finest, is standard fare. Physical participation amongst exotic communities helps to open doors and to reduce barriers to communication. It also makes you feel good! You will be challenged and delighted at how this approach can help you to truly experience the essence of Japan.

John's adventures over the years have taken him to the flanks of Mt. Mckinley, the full Haute Route in Europe, cycle touring in New Zealand and of course many adventures in his home country of Australia. His passion though is for Japan and the myriad elements that combine to make a superb adventure experience.

John now runs Journey into Japan with his Canadian born wife Lucy. Although Lucy provides a strong administrative presence, she prefers to be in Japan helping on the cycling, hiking or skiing tours. John and Lucy and their staff look forward to you joining them for an adventure in exotic Japan.

The Guides

John Morrell


Unmatched experience guiding & skiing in central Hokkaido since 1981. John pioneered commercial backcountry guiding in Hokkaido for foreign skiers in 1984 and has been a leader in the field ever since. He has worked and qualified as a nordic and telemark instructor, backcountry ski guide, cycle tour leader, rafting and canoeing guide and outdoor leadership trainer (Australian Training Packages).

Tim Macartney-Snape

Tim is one of the world's great mountaineers, with two successful climbs of Mt. Everest amongst other achievements. Tim has skied the world and is a Black Diamond representative. He has a passion for the backcountry of Hokkaido. Tim leads our advanced groups.


Trevor Staats


Trevor is our 2018-2019 Tour Manager, and will also be guiding some tours this season. Trevor has been backcountry skiing since 1981 and is a dedicated telemark skier. He is also a qualified telemark instructor and has been skiing the Hokkaido backcountry for 10 years.

Trevor is passionate about snow and skiing, and loves introducing others to the delights of the backcountry.

Lisa Murphy


Lisa is enthusiastic about all things snow. As a qualified Alpine instructor and with many years experience leading groups in the outdoors she loves to introduce others to the magic of skiing in Japan.

Lisa is highly qualified, and is also an Adventure Fitness Coach, Personal Trainer (qualified), Trek Training Coach and is avalanche safety trained. Lisa truly loves snow and Japan. Equally she loves to empower / encourage / introduce others to adventure!

Miles Bright


Miles Bright is an IFMGA guide and member of the French guides association. He has spent the last twenty winters skiing and guiding back country skiing in Chamonix, France.

Miles loves to go hunting for good snow using lift power or leg power.

Ryan Taylor


Ryan first guided in Furano in 2011 and speaks Japanese. Last season he was based in BC, Canada where studied and worked in the GIS (mapping) industry, primarily to increase his skills in finding intrepid destinations for backcountry skiing. Ryan has made many steep ski descents in NZ, Japan, Tajikistan, Canada and most recently Greenland.

Ryan is passionate about the backcountry, the people it attracts, and sharing the experience.

Sam Lucas


Sam is from Byron Bay, Australia. He loves to ski, and has been coming to Japan since he was 11. Skiing for Sam is all about the snow - quality and quantity - and so central Hokkaido has some of his favourite locations in the world. Sam will be assisting on our guided trips, and working at our rental shop in Furano.

 When he’s not skiing, Sam will probably be you-tubing skiing, thinking about how many days to the season or reading through gear reviews.

Noé Massias


Noé has been a ski technician for 5 years. He spent 3 years in the French Alps, changing resorts every year in order to discover more mountains and even more crazy lines to ride. Last season in Europe he was a ski tech in the world famous off piste resort in the Alps: La Grave, before heading to NZ and working two seasons in Canterbury. He'll choose the right gear for you and give some love to your own beloved skis. He also enjoys hiking with a split board or a pair of good hiking shoes. 6 years ago he and a mate spent a year crossing Europe just hiking and hitchhiking and camping along the way.

Roman Reshetnikov


Roman is passionate skier and outdoor guide. Originally from Far East Russia, he has spent the past 10 years living and working in Japan. 

Now living in Furano, Roman spends his summers guiding whitewater rafting trips in the beautiful rivers of Central Hokkaido and winters in the amazing backcountry powder. He has worked at various resorts in Japan and is an experienced ski patroller.