Police Box (2004-11-15)

You hardly see any police walk the beat in Tokyo.  What you do see are small police boxes known as koban in every suburb and outside numerous train stations.  Since petty crime rate is relatively low in Japan, the police in a koban spend most of their time not solving crime but giving out direction. 

Yes, police stand tall at the door of koban ready and eager to help lost pedestrians with the most sophiscated equipment, a street map.  I have sought help at a koban several times when I couldn't find that darn address I was looking for.  There was one time when KL and I were utterly lost in a quiet suburb and there was no koban in sight.  Miraculously a policeman appeared around the corner and walked toward us (This is a rarity because you just don't see cops on the streets in the suburb).  We quickly approached him for help.  Without a second thought he pulled out a beat-up map under his hat!  The action was spontaneous and free-flowing, it's like he expected people to go to him for direction.  He was able to help us at the end of course.

There are all these high-tech gadgets such as cell phones, palm pilots and watches with global positioning system installed in them on the market.  But who needs them when you have good ol' policemen with maps?  That is, if you can find one.

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