Koban are small police stations.
They’re often detached, independently standing buildings found in towns and cities.
There are around 6,000 koban in Japan.
They patrol their neighbourhood, offer directions, lost & found and deal with crimes.
Koban are one of the reasons Japan’s streets are so safe.
There’s usually one within running distance wherever you are and they can respond quickly to calls.
A quick note on spelling and pronounciation:
The “o” sound in koban is a long vowel sound, kouban/こうばん, not to be confused with a short “o” sound in こばん/koban which was a small coin in feudal Edo Japan.
Although they’re pretty, that type of koban can’t protect you in an emergency.