Koban – What to do at a police station in Japan?

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Koban (交番) are the small and famous police stations in Japan. The word koban can also refer to a small police unit. There are more than 6,000 police stations scattered across Japan.

In these small urban posts, few police officers work, who act preventively advising and helping the local community. Koban are very useful and you can use them if:

  • Lost or found an item of value
  • Was stolen or threatened
  • They tried to harass you
  • Borrow money..;
  • Using a phone
  • Having an accident
  • Find maps and directions

That's right, if you have been stolen or lost your wallet, you can ask a koban for help, they will analyze your case and even lend you money to return home.

Police stations are often located close to stations, banks and entertainment areas. They are built in strategic locations to prevent criminal activity, in addition to providing community support. Most of the time koban are used to ask for information, find street addresses and report a loss.


Curiosities about the koban

A koban can be found in almost every neighborhood, in Tokyo alone there are more than 1200 police stations, unfortunately not all are open 24 hours a day, but in a large number of koban, you may be able to find at least one officer. Another curiosity is that most police stations in Japan have unique architectures, and are modeled to match the neighborhood or city.

In rural areas instead of the koban, there are chuzaisho (駐在所) which are residences that have the same objective, but only one officer and his family live.

Each koban is usually made up of a group of 4 policemen - 3 officers under the command of a sergeant working three 8-hour shifts under the control of the area. Most of the time it is young and old people who make up a police station.


Police stations usually have a red light or a pair of red lights above the doors, in addition to a gold five-pointed star. Officers also often have this golden five-pointed star on their shoulder in their uniform.

Communicating on a Koban

If you do not want to go to a police station, you can contact 110 (for emergencies) and 9110 (non-emergencies). Below we will leave some phrases and information items that will help you to manage if you need to communicate in a koban:

Moyori no kōban wa doko ni arimasu ka?
Where is the nearest police station?

秋葉原 の 行き方 を 教えてください
Akihabara no ikikata o oshietekudasai
Please give me instructions on how to get to akihabara.

Pasupōto wo otoshite shimaimashita
I left my passport somewhere.

鞄 を 盗まれ ました
Kaban wo nusuma remashita
My bag was stolen

痴漢 に 会いました
chikan ni aimashita
I found a pervert

電話 を 貸してください
Denwa wo kashite kudasai
Can I please use the phone? (enter me).

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