Owl Police Box – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Tokyo, Japan

Owl Police Box

This adorable birdlike police box is designed based on a play on words. 

Near the east exit of Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo’s Toshima ward stands a small building looks distinctly like an owl. Despite its cute appearance, this particular owl, with its two big window eyes, works hard to protect the safety of citizens.

This birdlike police box is located at the Ikebukuro Station’s East Exit. The owl shape was intentional, as the name “Ikebukuro” is often associated with owls. It’s a play on words: “bukuro” (ぶくろ) sounds like “fukurō” (ふくろう), which means “owl” in Japanese. (Bukuro ぶくろ is an alternative pronunciation of “fukuro” ふくろ, so it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem to non-native speakers.)

The origin of this wordplay is unclear, but it can date back to at least 1987, when Ikebukuro Station put up an owl statue in the north exit.

This latest humorous police box is made all the more charming by the fact that it’s based on designs by four school kids. When the city decided to build the police box in 2005, it asked local students to design a new structure. Four owl-themed designs were chosen, then combined into the current design. The original design pictures are displayed on the wall of the police box.

Since the police box is within a stone’s throw of Ikebukuro Station and very eye-catching, many people use it as a meeting point. It’s probably one of the safest meeting points in Tokyo, right next to police officers.

Know Before You Go

About 3 minutes from Ikebukuro Station, east exit (it's near Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Seibu department store).