Translation:Is there a police box nearby?
Is there a police box nearby? I'd like to report a murder. The suspect was short, green, feathered, and covered in the blood of my family.
I believe police boxes in Japan are often used to ask for directions from police officers. It's not easy or common to ask other people on the street for directions and the police will have a map to give you the best route.
Are police boxes still used in Japan or something? Seems like a weird thing for Duo to proportioned teaching.
"Your best resource for contacting the police, getting directions if you are lost, or for reporting a lost or stolen item, is your nearest “Koban”, or police box. This network of mini police stations is unique to Japan, and they can be found in virtually every neighborhood throughout the country, there are over 1200 Koban in Tokyo alone. While not all Koban are staffed 24 hours a day, most of the police boxes located in heavily populated areas will have an officer on duty."
To illustrate, here's a picture of one:
I can second that. When I lost my phone in 2018, I reported it at the next こうばん. And since most Japanese people hand in the things they find (except for umbrellas), I got it back a few days later.
I would even say that 交番はどこですか。is definitely survival Japanese for tourists.
Probably the translation to Police Box remained from the time when they were in use in Britain, but they are not actual police boxes, but rather just small police stations
Can anyone explain why its は and not が marking the police box? At this point it seems a little arbitrary... I'd have gone with が asking this...
This is one of those things where it probably takes a lot of study and immersion in Japanese before you get a natural feel for which is right in a particular situation, and how using one or the other subtly changes the sense of what you're saying
Anyhoo, は is more for establishing the topic or setting a new context. So it's like "police boxes - are there any nearby?". Whereas が is more like talking about a specific thing, where you might use it or the in English. "Is the police box nearby?"
I mean obviously I'm still trying to get the hang of it myself, but it feels more natural to me to use は here
I agree with telemetry, but here is a tip for you. You will almost always find は marking the topic or subject of a negative verb.
I put "Is a police box nearby" and it was wrong. Shouldn't that work?
Do a Google image search for police box in Japan. As others have noted, they're basically little tiny police stations. They're actually very cute
Out of curiosity, what would be the appropriately polite way to stop a stranger to ask a question like this? Could I just get their attention with a "sumimasen!" and go straight into the question, or would that be considered rude?
I lived in Japan for 2 years. I think that's a very appropriate way. To the point and respectful of their time.
すみません、ちょっといいですか？ Should be fine for most situations when asking questions to a stranger on the streets.
I typed "Is there a police box near?" and it was counted wrong. Does anyone else think what I typed should be accepted?
I put near as well. There is a difference between near and nearby, where near is used for comparison (with far) whike nearby is the grammatically correct to describe distance. Or something like that.
Why is it "ちかく" and not "ちかい"?
Edit: I figured it out! It's because ちかく is modifying あります, not こうばん, and is thus acting as an adverb, not an adjective.
Im not sure I've ever heard a kouban-type place referred to as an office. It's really more of a small station where you can go for help, whereas an office conjures imagery of filing and booking and such, at least IMO
Man how can ば sound so much like が ?! Sometimes the pronunciation messes with me so bad. I’m like what the heck is a kougan???