Basis of impression
The intention is to show how easily and cheaply a basic Japanese uniform can be to put together, as I feel this is the biggest obstacle in the way of a PTO game. It details the use of substitute, rather than replica equipment.
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• Helmet – A British Mk.IV steel helmet is close in shape to the Japanese helmet. It should be sprayed matt brown, and it possible a small 5 pointed star should be welded to the front for an IJA helmet, or a small anchor for an SNLF helmet. A net, or tan cover should be worn on the helmet. If netted, foliage from a fake plastic tree makes an ideal accessory and really helps to capture the Japanese “look”
• Cap – The Japanese field cap has a very distinctive shape. I haven’t seen a suitable substitute, so I recommend a replica or original cap to those people wishing to wear them. The cap can be worn under the helmet for additional comfort.
• Neck cloth: like the cap and the foliage on the helmet, the neck cloth is distinctive. I haven’t seen a substitute, so I recommend making one or buying a replica. A simple flap of tan cloth will do, sewn into the back of the cap or left resting inside the helmet.
• Shirt: Any tan shirt will do; pleated pockets are a nice touch. A used post war French shirt should cost no more than £5.00, and would be perfect.
• Trousers: Most light brown or khaki trousers will be fit for the purpose. Removing any side pockets will help. Trousers should be baggy if possible, and tied at the top with a strip of green or khaki cotton. Battledress, soviet M43 and M88 and SA Nutria Brown trousers are particularly suitable.
• Rank Badges: Even privates wore some for of rank insignia. Replicas can be found online, and should be worn either over the left pocket or on the collar. Making the rank badges is very easy – for a private it is just a rectangle of red felt.
• Puttees – Brown or khaki puttees should be worn. There are guides about on how to wear puttees in the Japanese style. Try to tie them from the top of the the boot to just below the knee. If the tapes are long enough they should be tied in a “X” across the front.
• Gaiters – WW2 era gaiters may be worn in place of the puttees.
• Boots: Brown or black lace up leather boots should be worn. Ankle high boots are ideal, but high leg boots may be worn of covered by puttees.
• “Tabi” – Tabi are split toe Japanese plimsolls, often worn in tropical areas. Replica tabi are available online (eBay is a good source), or black plimsolls or converse make good substitutes. Should be worn with puttees.
• Bread Bag – A P37 respirator bag on P37 shoulder strap works well in this role. As Japanese leather pouches are too small to hold SMG magazines, it is useful for carrying spare ammunition.
• Water bottle – A P37 water bottle holder and canteen are suitable, suspended in the same fashion as the bread bag. It should be slung from the opposite shoulder to the bread bag, or worn around the neck in the centre of the chest.
• Belt and Ammunition Pouches: A brown Sam Browne belt, with or without the shoulder strap works well. Three pouches should be worn, two on the front and one in the centre of the back. French leather ammunition pouches are cheap and in plentiful supply, and fit on the British pattern Sam Browne. Canvas P37 Bren pouches are highly suitable as substitutes for Type 96 and 99 machine gun pouches. P37 shoulder straps should be worn in the normal way when using this set-up. Some modification to the Sam Browne may be necessary to attach them at the back.
I don’t know the suppliers for most of the kit I’ve recommended – it was purchased in person at military shows and the like, and from ebay. Most of it’s post war British and American kit, in the ww2 style (i.e 50’s p37 kit, mk. IV helmet etc). However, authentic and reproduction Japanese kit can be had from: