Amazon teaches Alexa Japanese for Echo's next destination

The company built a custom experience for Japanese users from the ground up.


Amazon's Echo, Plus and Dot speakers will finally be available in Japan starting next week. To prepare for the devices' arrival in the island nation, the e-retail giant taught the voice assistant how to understand and respond in the Japanese language. Alexa SVP Tom Taylor said the company designed an all-new experience "from the ground up for Japanese customers, including a new Japanese voice, local knowledge and over 250 skills from Japanese developers."

Users in the country can issue typical Alexa voice commands in their native tongue. They can, say, listen to news from Japanese media companies like NHK, TBS TV, TV TOKYO, Asahi Newspaper and Mainichi Newspaper. They can ask Alexa for the local weather forecast, as well as questions about local celebs, locations ("What is the altitude of Alexa, Mt. Fuji?"), prominent dates in the country and even the spelling of English words.

Amazon also wants to make sure third-party developers can create unique experiences for Japanese users, so it has given them access to Alexa's Skills Kit. Japanese companies will even be able to use Alexa's Voice Service soon, which will give them the power to embed Alexa into their devices, services and maybe even their robots. If you're in Japan, the basic Echo, the Echo Plus with built-in smart home hub and the tiny Echo Dot speaker will set you back 11,980 yen ($105), 17,980 yen ($158) and 5,980 yen ($53), respectively when they start shipping on November 13th.