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.
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!
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.
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!