Andy Radovic of Outrider has a nice high level piece over at iMedia Asia on the Japanese search market. Called "Searching for travel, the Japan way", it is the BOOT Recommended Read of the week. Paints a very positive picture of online travel in Japan - which is fair and true. When discussing Japan it is important to know that the success of online travel in Japan is despite the fact that the online travel market has not one but two hands tied behind its back.
Firstly the two main airlines - ANA and JAL - still make it virtually impossible to conduct a search query that includes results for both carriers on domestic routes. This has crippled any efforts by intermediaries to sell air in Japan and led to the focus by the major online intermediaries (Jalan/Recruit and Rakuten) on accommodation.
Secondly I have been reliably informed that there are very strict laws on the requirements for disclosure to consumers about the cancellation policies on package sales. When I last investigated this the cancellation policy for a package tour had to be explained to a customer. That is that it had to happen over the phone or face to face rather than a consent online. If this law is still in effect, then it eliminates the "hands free" sale of group tours online. That is the sale of group tours/travel without the intervention of a sales person.
[above assumes my knowledge of JP market is still up to date - please let me know if I am out of the loop]
thanks to Hyougushi over a flickr for the photo