I recently came across an interesting 2005 post by Tae Kim, author of the famous Guide to Learning Japanese and a modern legend in serious Japanese-learner circles.
The article is entitled "Debunking the Japanese sentence order myth" and it makes a pretty convincing case against the general trend of calling Japanese an SOV (subject-object-verb) language. It's a recommended read for those interested.
As he says, word order in Japanese is very fluid, thanks in large part to the presence of its particles, which identify how a word is being used. Shoot, you can even pick and choose your particles sometimes (e.g., using は instead of を or が) and combine them (e.g., には or へは) to further add nuance.
Man, I love this language.