Police Box

4 Sep

Are there “police boxes” in your country?

I have never seen a police box in America.  I don’t think that there are any there.
But, thanks to the internet, I’ve learned that the UK has them.

A police box in England. Quite different from Japan's 交番 (police boxes)!

A police box in England. Quite different from Japan’s 交番 (police boxes)!

The police boxes in England, according to what I read, are very small and simple. Just a phone that people can use to contact a “real” police station, and a small desk and a first-aid kit.
They aren’t manned by a police officer…just a way for people to contact the police before cell-phones became an item carried by everyone.

These are very different from the 交番 (police boxes (called “Ko-ban” in Japanese)) in Japan!

That particular police box in eastern Tokyo has actually become semi-famous because of a popular manga / anime.

That particular police box in eastern Tokyo has actually become semi-famous because of a popular manga / anime.

In Japan, 交番 (police boxes) are an important and helpful part of every neighborhood in Japan.  They can be seen all around Japan…especially near train stations and many major intersections.  But there are also 交番 (police boxes) at many seemingly random places too.

Unlike the ones in Europe, Japanese 交番 (police boxes) are always staffed by at least one police officer (busy areas have bigger police boxes with more officers) at all times of day and night.
The officers stationed at them make periodic patrols around the neighborhood…so small 交番 (police boxes) that only have one officer will be unmanned during those brief periods – but there will be a sign in the window that says 「パトロール中です。」 (“On patrol“).

交番 (police boxes) in Japan are probably most commonly used by the public for asking for directions. This is no problem. If you’re lost while in Japan, you can go into a 交番 (police box) and ask for directions. The officers stationed there are very knowledgeable about the neighborhood and it’s part of their duties to help people find their way.
Other helpful services provided by 交番 (police boxes) include: “Lost and Found” … if you find some misplaced property (train pass, keys, wallet, cell-phone, etc) or if you’ve lost something, go to a 交番 (police boxes) for help.
Also, of course, they are police officers, so crimes or other emergencies can be reported there.

There are some koban in Japan that are designed to resemble an owl.

Ikebukuro, Tokyo has a 'koban' that looks like an owl because of a play-on-words in Japanese.

Ikebukuro, Tokyo has a ‘koban’ that looks like an owl because of a play-on-words in Japanese (Ikebukuro doesn’t mean “owl”, but the name sounds like some type of an owl in Japanese).

A koban near Chiba train station looks like an owl, too. It's eye light up at night.

A koban near Chiba train station looks like an owl, too. It’s eye light up at night.

A koban in Shibuya, Tokyo looks like an owl, too.

A koban in Shibuya, Tokyo looks like an owl, too.

Please, by all means, leave a comment in this post and tell about your impressions / experiences with police boxes in Japan and/or other countries!

4 Responses to “Police Box”

  1. CrazyChineseFamily September 4, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    We dont have any police boxes in Germany or Finland, just the basic police stations. The officers patrolling around are just assigned always to the particular area but in my experience it is rare that you meet any except in some busy areas

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 4, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      The Japanese 交番 (police box) system is nice because it’s easy to find a police officer nearby, if you need one…and because they patrol the area and talk with the people, they’re a part of the community.

      Liked by 1 person

      • CrazyChineseFamily September 5, 2015 at 12:37 am #

        This is a very nice system. The only officers who become part of the community are the ones stationed in small villages here

        Liked by 1 person

      • tokyo5 September 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

        Yes. Japanese police are actually helpful and courteous.

        Like

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