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Koban – Police Boxes

If you ever find yourself in need of assistance in Japan look for a police box or Koban. There are approximately 1200 Kobans located at major intersections and near most train stations throughout Tokyo. If you don’t see a sign for a Koban you can locate one by looking for a circled X on most maps.

The officers in the Koban can provide directions and guidance to citizens and visitors that are lost (Japan’s address system can be quite confusing even to the Japanese), accept reports of crime and respond to local emergencies. They also act as a community lost & found. Be warned though, the officers assigned to the Koban are unlikely to be conversant in English.

One interesting thing that I have noticed is that the Koban signs are usually the same in that they have the word KOBAN prominently displayed on a green background but they often have a different logos. So far I have seen Pipo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police mascot (top) and the police hat (bottom left).

Photo Credit: Personal Collection