Mario and Princess Peach zoom through the busy streets, dodging obstacles and each other as they wave to the crowd! Does this sound like a video game you have heard of? Try again…This is real life Mario Kart! A fantasy that you can experience in real life in the streets of busy Tokyo, Japan!
Tokyo is known to be the capital of crazy and cute things and this has to be coolest thing to do during my recent trip there. Yes, it’s legal to drive a go kart on the streets of Tokyo and yes you dress up as your favorite character while taking videos & pictures. This was such a fun way to tour the streets of Tokyo and an amazing experience that I will never forget.
Many of you have asked questions about where and how to book the Mario Kart experience so I decided to put together this guide for you 🙂
- In order to partake, you need to have a Japanese driver’s license, an international driver’s permit, or a SOFA license (US Armed Forces). It’s mandatory that you must show both your international driving permit and your passport. Otherwise, they won’t let you drive.
- The company I booked with was Samurai Kart, which I booked with through Voyagin. It’s best to contact them through email with any questions you may have. I received a response within a few hours.
- I went with the “Middle Course Tour” which was two hours long. For me this was perfect (anything less would be too short). This cost $60 USD, or approximately 6771 YEN.
- On this tour you can drive a go-kart around Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara and many other Tokyo hotspots.
The meetup point is at their office in the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo. This made for a perfect day walking around the temples of Asakusa in the morning and meeting up around noon for Mario Kart. You can walk to their office from Asakusa station which is about a 15 min. walk. You will know you are there once you see all these Go-karts parked right in front
Next up: we picked our costume. This wasn’t a hard choice. I went straight to the pink gown & grabbed my crown. Princess Peach here we come!
It took about 30 minutes for all of us to be up and running then finally it was time to go! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. It was a bit scary driving on the streets of Tokyo with the rest of the city’s traffic. I also wasn’t used to driving on the opposite lane and it was weird to be lower than every car on the street. Within 10 minutes I felt more comfortable and carefree. Our guide was great! He set up rules and hand signals to ensure we were as safe as possible.
I quickly realized that Japanese drivers are quite nice and 99% of the cars on the road tried to avoid us by driving in a completely different lane. I would not stand a chance back home in New York City on a go kart!
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING
This was really an exciting and unique experience and ended up being the best way to explore Tokyo while having a blast. If you want to do this in Tokyo, make sure to do the following to avoid disappointment!
- Make sure you have a driver’s license in your own country and be comfortable driving on the street
- Get an international driving permit (in the US, you can easily obtain this from AAA for $20)
- Contact Samurai Kart way in advance as they book up fast
- If you come in the summer, be ready to sweat! Might be best to choose a cooler costume with more breathing room.
- Bring a Go Pro for video footage and have a way to secure it to your body (head wrap or chest piece). You are not allowed to take photos while driving, but they have Go Pros to rent if you don’t have one. The tour guide will take plenty of pics for you & airdrop them all to you later, too!
- The Go-Karts only have a small pouch for your phone and keys. Leave your pocketbook in the locker.
- Follow Japanese driving rules and road etiquette, but most of all enjoy and be safe!
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