Koban – 交番

“Koban” (交番) are police-boxes. There are many in Japan, and they are all pretty uniformly distributed, there are around 1.000 only in Tokyo. The purpose of this system is to have some police presence in many places, so people would feel safe. Koban are little and are easy to recognize because they usually have peculiar shapes.

I like koban because they always have an area map and a bored policeman who would help you to find your way if you are lost or you are looking for some specific place. The koban system is also used in Singapur and Brasil, countries that were helped/advised by the Japanese government.




One of the curiosities about koban is that many of them are empty and open at night!. You can free to go inside, look around an you can even use a telephone just in case you want to call the police! You can call the police from a police-box, isn’t it surrealistic?

Empy koban.

Table inside a Koban.

Computer inside the previous koban.

  • Stan

    December 17, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    It is weird when you commented Singapur having Kobans. We in Singapore call them the neighbourhood police post. NPP for short. pretty much the same things without the high tech info and maps.

  • kirai

    December 17, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Stan: now you know where the “Neighbourhood police post” come from 😉

  • Locksley McPherson Jnr

    December 17, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Interesting stuff! Wow they really are tiny huh? I can imagine someone working some long hours inside one of those things!

    I suppose thats why crime rate is relatively low in Japan, with all this presence of police.

  • sod

    December 17, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    in britain they are shutting the smaller police stations down which means you now hardly ever see the police in some areas.
    here is an article on it

  • Alex

    December 19, 2007 at 3:18 am
  • Fito Gordo

    February 27, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Yes, I can attest to these being present in Brazil. However, they vary a lot from state to state, since each state has their own military police force, and a lot of cities have their own municipal guard units. It may sound a little strange, but it really is quite similar to how police is structured in the US.: state police, local town police, and federal departments for federal crimes, intra-state crimes and national security threats.
    Anyway, here is São Paulo, most of these community police posts are mobile, and get relocated as needed. They are usually trailers, or large vans. They also have some stationary ones, usually just a slightly elevated fiberglass cabin, where an officer can keep and eye on all four corners of a busy intersection (Paulista region), and there are some permanent mini police stations much like the Kobans, but these are less common.

  • […] I liked the ending where it explains how Mr.Hirahaya found 13.000 yen. He brought the money to a koban, after some time nobody claimed it and the police gave him back the money. ‘’I feel uncomfortable holding another person’s money,’’ Mr. Hirahaya said ‘’I think many Japanese people feel the same way and hand over something they find. I think among Japanese there’s still a sense of community since ancient times.’’ […]