Two of Japan's most respected institutions — kiosks and koban (police boxes) — have gone empty in recent weeks, upsetting many who regularly depend on them. The shock waves are still reverberating around the country, but especially in Tokyo, where their essential everyday services were reported closed in numerous areas.

Those who rely on these omnipresent parts of daily life, which includes pretty much everyone at some point, may find it hard to believe that these familiar oases could actually go left unattended. Kiosks are microcosms of Japan's super-convenience, while koban both reflect and ensure a relatively safe society. Both are too much a part of daily life to imagine really being gone.

Even though the operations at most koban and kiosks have not yet been reduced, the hassle of finding another place to buy a magazine or getting somewhere without clear directions will remind many that two of Japan's most basic values are safety and efficiency. Whenever important symbols of a country start to fall apart, people should take notice.