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.
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.
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.