Portable Weapons

Field's Equipment

Training Weapons

Communication Tools

Optical Weapons

Field Equipment [Sogu]

Uniforms [Hifuku]
The Japanese Army adopted western style uniform for battle before the Meiji Restoration and until 1912 there were three major revisions. Field gear was generally revised in 1930 (M-Sho-5) in 1938 (M98), and in 1943 (M-3). Besides general field gear there was Winter Gear, Summer Working Gear, and Special Workers Gear. Six different sizes of wearing apparel were prepared. The main color used was yellowish khaki, and in 1943 more green was added.

Footgears [Ashigoshirae]

Japanese infantry policy was seriously based on walking rather than relying on the other transports. The background of this reality was lack of fuel and their terrain of the field, such as in China, made the use of vehicles totally unsuitable for military operations. Thus, the kind and quality of footwear available were vital to the progress of the infantry.

The Japanese military boots are very similar to the heavy duty work boot type of footwear popular today everywhere. There were three main types of short boots in the Japanese military.

  1. Cowhide, with all leather sole, without any metal, and with an engraved mark on bottom.

  2. Hob-nailed leather soles-there were two types
    A). with 38 round spikes on bottom, each spike measuring 7mm in diameter and 3mm high. There was also a crescent moon-shaped metal piece on the outside of the heel.
    B). with scallop-shell shaped metal studs on the bottom-seven on the front part of the sole, and four on the heel, with each measuring 15mm x 22 mm and 3mm thick.

  3. A rubber-soled boot, with leather uppers and no metal, very similar to the modern version.

The sizes of boots were measured in lengths that corresponded to the size of the Mon, a type of old coin. The size was shown on the boot and punched out in dotted holes.
For example, size 10.0 Mon would be 25cm( 10inches) and approximately 6 1/2 American size, and the size 10.3 would be 27cm(11inches), American size 7. All stitching was double stitched. The makers logo was also stamped into the leather.

There are several names of the manufacturer seen such as CHIYODA, SAKURAGUMI, OUTSUKA, and so on.
About half of the boots seen were made from cowhide, with the tanned or brown part of the leather on the outside. Yet, there were still a large number of boots using the suade side of the leather outside.
Boots without the metal studs were probably used by tank soldiers or drivers because they would not slip on iron, and by the naval landing forces.
After 1944 many of the boots were made using pigskin or sharkskin mainly because of the lack of materials. Pigskin is much weaker and does not hold up as well, and later boots were of much lower quality, made to lower standards, with only single stitching, and no markings, and no size. Very few of these survived.

New Findings

Head Gears [Bou]
In Japanese a helmet is called a "Tetsu-bou" and a field cap is a "Ryaku-bou." Until the late 1920's the cap "Gun-bou," was the main head gear for the troops.
The latest Gun-bou was the M-45 (1912) which was yellow with a red band and a black visor. The main helmet used since 1930 was the M-90 (1930), and it was used until 1945. Another type of helmet used before 1930 had a chrysanthemum ornament on top, and few of these helmets exist today.

The Japanese Army first began to use helmets in 1928, but perhaps the Naval Landing Forces might have used them a little earlier. The early helmet models had a flared shape with visor, and photographs from 1929 show that helmets were used by both the Army and Navy. It is believed that a total of only 15,000 of the Old Style helmets were produced. The peak of the Old Style helmet was decorated with a cherry blossom, and the strap was fastened at four points. In 1930, the M-90 with its simple, ordinary shape was adopted, and this helmet was manufactured with almost no change until 1945. The M-90 helmet was made of high quality chrome molybdenum steel. A star symbol was attached to the front of the helmet.

The M-90 helmet
The M-90 helmet, which has a simple round shape, was made from molybdenum steel and was painted khaki. It has a leather interior with a cloth chin strap. A cloth cover and a net for camouflage purposes were used with this helmet. There are two sizes - large (Dai) and small (Shou) - and the size is usually painted on the inside of the brim at the rear. The M-90 helmet was made mainly at the arsenals initially and later several commercial companies (Kobe Seiko) joined in the production. Probably several million of these helmets were made and average annual production during the 1938 - 1944 period was 600,0000. Naval Landing Forces used the same M-90 helmets probably until 1943.
The Simple Field Cap [Ryaku-Bou]

It was made in cotton for summer and in wool for winter. Its color is between khaki and yellow.

In 1944 and 1945 many different kinds of helmets were made for the Naval Landing Forces because of the expansion of naval forces on the ground after the Navy lost its sea powers. Some were for guards, some were for training, and some of these helmets were made for commercial use.

Belt [Kawa-Obi] and Bayonets' Holders [Jyuken-Sasi]
Both M-30 bayonet and bayonet holder are basic equipment. The belt is 103cm long and there are 11 hole and 7 hole variants.
New Findings

Cleaning Tools and Kits [Teire-Gu]

Many Japanese small arms were designed with features to protect them from the dust, mud, and water of the North East part of China where they suffered severe battlefield conditions. Most Japanese rifles were equipped with full size cleaning rods under their barrels, with the exceptions of the Murata-22 which had a tubular magazine and sections stored inside the buttstock. A Japanese infantry rifle squad each had a kit of cleaning tools in a bag which contained a screwdriver, sections of a cleaning rod, a cleaning rod guide of wood which was used in place of the rifles bolt during cleaning, a muzzle guide, a cleaning brush, and a jag tip. There were various muzzle covers and action covers to protect every open portion of a weapon. Machine guns had leather or canvas gun covers for protection.

"Clean a weapon to preserve it forever" is one of the mottos of the Japanese military. Mr. Murata wrote in the manual for his Murata rifle of the 1870's that a rifle properly cared for should be preserved forever. Mr. Nambu mentioned almost the same words. Japan was a poor country so it was strict policy for troops to take good care of their weapons in all circumstances. A weapon was regarded with more importance than a man.

New Findings

Personal Items [Kojin-Sougu]
Today it is difficult to find other equipment items, such as back packs, bread bags, portable tents, camouflage nets, and map cases in original and in good condition. Most equipment items are OD khaki color, but when the battle front went south green was added. In 1933 a backpack was adopted which had twelve tapes on it to hold a shovel, a mess kit, a tent, and a pair of Tabi; because of the many tapes it was called "OCTIPUS LEGS." This equipment was made from canvas and many of these backpacks used a cloth belt to hold down the flaps.

Mess Kit [Han-Gou] and Canteen [Sui-Tou]

Japanese troops ate mainly rice for their rations. Rice was a superior food for carrying and for preserving, but it had to be cooked in good water over a fire. Rice was cooked individual soldiers for there seldom was a central field kitchen available. The mess kit was brown in color, and it had an inside liner. The cooked rice was contained in the outer container and inside container was used for side dishes. A soldier was supplied with six Gou (one Gou is about two pints) of rice per day, with a canned side dish. The ration was a tremendous amount. The average Japanese consumes only one Gou of rice per day at present.

M-94 canteen
It was of one liter capacity and it was painted brown. There were many variations of the canteen, depending upon manufacturer.

New Findings

Compass [Jishaku]
Many kinds of compasses were used but the most popular style was made of black Bakelite material and was liquid - filled.
Compass [Jishaku]
Japanese soldiers started using the wrist watches individually probably late 1920's. SEIKO introduced "NATION" model 9 and 10 which had 7,10,15 stones in 1929 based on their Army model watches. In 1937 SEIKO produced 700,000 Army watches. During 1937-42 , SEIKO Second Factory made more than 1million watches for the Army and Navy each year. An Army model had a star marking on the dial and a Navy Model had an anchor marking on the back plate. In 1938 an Army wrist watch cost about 1/10 of a M-38 rifle.
There should be several million Japanese military wrist watches existence , but these days they are very hard to find.

Gas Masks [Hikou]
The most popular gas mask used by the Army was the M-95 whose cannister filter was separated from the face mask by a hose and which was carried in the bag. The Navy used the M-97 which also separated face mask and filter, and the filter was carried on the man's back. These gas masks could be used for up to 100 hours of continuous use. Later the Army adopted the M-98 gas mask which mated face mask and filter cannister as one unit and the filter on this mask was useable for up to 30 hours. These masks were made by millions but today they are hard to find. There were many civilian types and these were small units with the filters incorporated in the face mask and they were supplied in a thin canvas bag.

Construction Tools [Dokou-Kougu]
There were several hand tools carried by infantry troops: shovels, axes, saws, pickaxes, sickles, and wire cutters. There were threee sizes of shovels, a small one for infantry, and a medium-sized one for artillerymen. The artilleryman's shovel has two holes in the blade which may be used as viewing holes when the shovel is used as face protection when observing enemy positions from a trench. Machine gun squads used shovels to make proper emplacements for their guns.