If you ever lived in Japan, you know that Japanese address system is uneasy for people who get used to the western system on which all streets have a name and name+number identify the single location.
In Japan, addresses are rather area name.
Two Giants Yahoo! Japan and Google have been working well with this different system and providing pretty good service to Japanese web users. Out of 4 nationwide map companies (Zenrin, Shoubunsha, Increment P and Alps-sha), Yahoo! Japan helped bankrupted Alps-sha and merged it in April 2008. Google Maps is supported by Zenrin’s data.
However, Kyoto, the thousand-years-old former capital, has yet another different method of address notation besides the official postal address, and that casual ones are used daily and on travel guidebooks.
The newly released Geodosu (“-dosu” is a typical Kyoto dialect suffix) Kyoto Traditional Address Search, now supports both Japanese and English, offers what Yahoo/Google Maps cannot do, search by the addresses which Kyoto people are really using. Kyoto geocoder API is also provided.
The Geodosu project is run by Locazing Inc. and Annai LLC.
On Wednesday, eBay announced it had agreed to take over Gmarket, a South Korea’s e-commerce marketplace. The company’s shareholders, Yahoo U.S. and Korea’s Interpark[K] also reportedly agreed to sell their Gmarket shares to eBay.
By merging Gmarket with eBay’s Korean local subsidiary called Auction (IAC)[K], e-Bay expects to get ahead and to keep aggressive position in the country’s e-commerce market. IAC is specifically focusing on computer products and electronic devices, and it handled the total brokerage amount for USD2.2B and earned USD161.2M revenue in the last fiscal period. Gmarket is focusing on selling fashion items, and the company dealed with items for USD3.2B and earned USD 220.8M in the period.
In Tokyo, eBay also re-launched a local site “ebay.co.jp[J]” on April 1st. In the timeline, nine years ago, eBay entered Japan in partnership with NEC Biglobe[J], Japan’s second largest ISP with over 5 million subscribers. However, in spite of the fifteen-month-efforts to engage more users and to defeat Yahoo Japan’s auction site, eBay Japan site was forced to shut down for the lack of revenue.
In late 2007, in association with Tokyo-based conglomerete netprice.com and Yahoo Japan[J] which used to be a rival, eBay launched the website called Seikaimon[J] for encouraging Japanese online shoppers to use eBay.com, by translating item introductions into Japanese and surrogating customs processing for importing items purchased(see Akky’s this previous article and Arai’s this article for more details). eBay.co.jp is a new entrance to the website described, and it’s not an auction site but provides translated indexes to each items listed on eBay.com, telephone assistance service in Japanese and video webinars for better biding.
Yahoo! Japan introduced an English version of Yahoo! Japan Auctions on October 10th, 2008. Its target audience is foreign residents in Japan who can communicate in basic Japanese but prefer to use an English interface.
Yahoo! Japan Auctions is the biggest Internet auction site in Japan.
The major drawback of the English site is that only items whose sellers have checked the ‘display on English site’ option are shown. Currently, only a few items are shown on the English site. Also, it is not possible to sell an item through the English site at the moment.
The English version of Yahoo! Japan Auctions is the opposite of Sekaimon [JP], a Japanese version of eBay.
[Updated] Yahoo! Japan made a quick decision to shut down the English version just after half an year. Release [J]
Demae-can (JP) is a comprehensive online catering and food delivery service. You can order pizza, sushi, or Joe the Plumber from your web browser.
Demae-can has contracts with national chains as well as many small independent restaurants. You can use Demae-can throughout Japan. Orders are sent to the restaurants by fax. So, small restaurant owners don’t have to introduce PCs or terminals into their restaurants.
Demae-can has 8400 service providers on the site, 1.88 million registered users , and 20 million page views per month .
Demae-can is operated by a public company called ‘Yume-no-machi Sozo-iinkai‘ (JP). The company has a 3.6 billion yen (36 million USD) market capitalization. This year’s revenue (FY2008) was 940 million yen (9.4 million USD) and its post-tax profit was 156 million yen (1.5 million USD).  
The company started Demae-can in (the year) 2000. It took 6 years before it recorded a profit, because its business model was non-traditional . Demae-can went public in 2006.
CEO Rie Nakamura joined the company in 2001. At that point, the company was suffering a loss, and facing financial problems. Nakamura was working for one of Japan’s leading bento (lunch box) companies and her company had a contract with Demae-can. The former CEO of Demae-can was impressed with her ability, and asked her to join and save the company.
In 2007, Yahoo Japan made a tender offer to acquire 40% of its shares . As a result, Yahoo Japan is now the biggest shareholder with 39.67% of Demae-can’s shares. 
 http://profile.yahoo.co.jp/independent/2484 (JP)
 http://japan.internet.com/finanews/20070222/3.html (JP)
 FY2008 financial statement (PDF, JP).
 Pre-tax profit was 268 million yen (2.68 million USD).
The mobile web is huge in Japan, meaning the alliance between Japanese Internet powerhouses Dwango, Mixi, MySpace Japan, Mobage-town, Yahoo and telecommunications company SoftBank Mobile announced on Thursday has to be taken very seriously.
Details are rather scarce at this point but SoftBank, for example, says [J] Dwango will provide content from its super-successful video portal Nico Nico Douga and that additional partnerships are currently being considered.
To kick off the alliance, SoftBank is organizing a widget coding contest [J] and will start accepting applications later this month. The winner will be announced in May next year and gets 2 Mio. Yen (20.000 USD, 16.000 Euros).
I am not really sure if this alliance will really change anything at all for users and the web industry itself but if Japan’s No 1, 2, 4, 7 and 19 (Yahoo, Softbank, DeNA/Mobage-town, Mixi and Dwango) in the list of the most valuable web companies participate something interesting might come out of it.
Although the initiative is limited to the mobile web, an alliance between giants like that is unheard of outside Japan or am I mistaken?