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'Mario Kart' in the Streets of Tokyo | © Alexander Svensson/Flickr
'Mario Kart' in the Streets of Tokyo | © Alexander Svensson/Flickr
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Race Through Tokyo in This Real-Life Version of Mario Kart

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 30 May 2017
Your wildest fourth-grade fantasy has come true: For roughly the same cost of buying the game brand new, you can rent a high-powered go-kart to “race” through the streets of Tokyo while dressed as your favorite Nintendo character. Traveling in groups of up to ten people, racers can choose from a number of courses that take them through several of Tokyo’s major hotspots including Shibuya, Roppongi, and Shinagawa. Welcome to real-life Mario Kart.

How it works

Based in Shinagawa, MariCar currently rents over a thousand go-kart spots per month, primarily to foreign tourists. There are three courses to choose from, each taking drivers on a unique tour through different sections of the city. This is not a go-kart track—racers drive alongside regular traffic on the streets of Tokyo; for this reason, the karts are professional grade and fitted with a GPS navigation to ensure that drivers don’t get lost. Hardcore fans can bring their own costumes from home (nerd alert) though the company offers a selection of costumes from the Mario Kart franchise as well as Disney. Each race begins and ends in Shinagawa, and lasts either two or three hours depending on the course.

Road rules

The official website specifically requests that drivers do not throw banana peels, turtle shells, or other objects into the street. This is not a real race and drivers are required to present a valid international driver’s license and follow the traffic laws of Japan. Earlier this year a South Korean tourist lost control and crashed a go-kart into a police station; don’t be that guy. Unlike in the video game, if you drive your go-kart off a bridge, you will not be miraculously airlifted to safety by a turtle in aviator goggles who rides a flying cloud…so please be careful.

Nintendo lawsuit

Last year Nintendo sued the company on the grounds that the name “MariCar” bears too close a resemblance to the Mario Kart franchise. Surprisingly, Nintendo lost, with the judge ruling that “MariCar” is not a commonly used interpretation of the name “Mario Kart”. A second lawsuit claiming copyright infringement for the use of unlicensed Nintendo costumes is still pending.