CiNii Articles enables users to search information on academic articles published in academic society journals, university research bulletins or articles included in the National Diet Library's Japanese Periodicals Index Database. (Some full text access available).
Academic Search Premier is a good place to start your search for wide range of subjects. You can enter keywords (i.e. manga) and Japan to search scholarly or magazine articles on Japan. Alternatively, type keywords and Japan, then select "Geographic Terms" from the pull-down menu.
Here's what results for search on "Hello Kitty" looks like.