Update 10/25 5 am Japan time: Apple Pay went online at 5am Japan time. Twitter users report successful Suica loading. I successfully loaded a JR East View Card on iPad Pro 9.7. If you are not seeing Apple Pay on your Apple Pay supported device after updating, try restarting the device.
iOS 10.1 had been released. As expected the update brings Apple Pay to:
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus devices sold in Japan for store, App and web purchasing
Suica transit and purchase support nationwide
Suica reloading with Apple Pay in Wallet and Transit Pass renewal
Apple Pay ready terminals are appearing in stores ahead of the October 25 Japanese launch. This one was at the local Matsumotokiyoshi drug store which until now only accepted Rakuten Edy contactless payment. Japanese twitter users are reporting similar developments in their locales. The market disruption that Apple Pay is bringing to Japan will be fascinating to watch.
Apple Maps Japan Transit service has gone live before the official iOS 10.1 release and Apple Pay Japan launch. iOS 10.1 beta users and macOS Sierra 10.12.1 beta users, can now search transit routes nationwide, even reaching tsunami recovery areas such as Yamadamachi in Iwate (screenshot below), with multiple transit time, fare and transfer results.
Apple Maps Japan cartography has been updated to show color coded train and subway lines, bus stops, completely new transit signage, enhanced station footprints and indoor mapping. Japanese Siri also supports transit route searches.
Rough spots remain and it appears as if this is a final beta test before the official Apple Pay Japan/Japan Transit rollout with iOS 10.1 update on October 25 (local Japan time). Indoor mapping for example, shows overall underground station connecting structures in pink, but multilevel underground detail, passageways and exit information is missing.
There is much to review and test in the next few days with more updates to follow. Until then, I posted some quick screenshots below. The images more or less resemble earlier Apple previews though there are some differences.
Shinjuku Station neatly arranges the different train transit groups, notice the yellow transit information alert.
Train lines and times are grouped by destination. The new signage is a problem. without kanji train line names.
Transit information alert details for the Saitama line.
Bus stops and route information now show in transit view
During Tim Cook’s trip here Japanese media reported October 25 (local time) as the Apple Pay Japan launch/iOS 10.1 release date. This is confirmed with the major Apple Pay partners going down for system maintenance that day. Both Docomo iD and JR East Suica will be completely down for “unscheduled system maintenance” the early morning hours of October 25.
iOS 10.1 is confirmed as a requirement for using Apple Pay in Japan.