Syntactic structures and meaning appear to independently contribute to structural priming within English structural alternations. Japanese uses scrambling of case-marked phrases to create syntactic alternations, and it is not clear how meaning impacts scrambling-based structural choices. To examine this issue, meaning overlap with dative targets was manipulated in two structural priming experiments. In Experiment 1, datives primed dative targets, but structurally similar primes with idiomatic meanings did not prime. In Experiment 2, transitive primes that differed from datives in thematic roles showed as much priming as dative primes. The transitive results demonstrate that scrambling-based alternations in Japanese can be primed from structures that differ in role meaning, but the lack of idiom priming means that these structures may be less independent of meaning than those in other languages.