Part of the reason I wanted to visit Tokyo on our honeymoon was to experience some of the downright strange things the city has to offer like rainbow spaghetti, maid restaurants, and real-life Mario Kart. From that list Mario Kart (aka MariCar) seemed like best choice. You’ve probably seen videos on Facebook of tourists dressed like Nintendo characters zooming around the city on little go-carts. Is this even safe? I wasn’t sure, but I decided to sign-up before it got shut down!
A Few Things to Know About MariCAR
First off, the company can’t actually call themselves Mario Kart so they went with a close second, MariCar. Since the go-karts are driven on the streets of Tokyo, you will need a valid driver’s license and an International Driving Permit to be able to participate. The permit costs $20 through AAA. To make a reservation with MariCar, send them a Facebook Message and a chatbot will walk you through the process. The reservation will not be confirmed until you provide a picture of your International Driving Permit so make sure to get it in advance!
MariCar Locations and Courses
MariCar has seven locations in Tokyo and can also be found in Osaka, Kyoto, and Okinawa. I booked the three hour S-L course from Shinagawa which includes the Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower, and Shibuya Crossing. I decided to book the tour for the evening since it would be a cool way to see the city at night. The other locations offer different course so do your homework before choosing one. Our tour cost JPY 13,000 per person.
My MariCar Experience
We arrived at the office early to pay for the tour and sign a waiver. Next we got to pick out our costumes which are essentially onesies of different characters from Nintendo, Marvel, Disney, etc. The sun had already set and it was a chilly night in late November. I picked my costume based on what looked the warmest. If you plan on going at night in late fall, definitely bring a pair of gloves!
The group then headed outside to the go-karts. The tour guide went through a quick tutorial and we were on our way. The guide made sure to take lots of pictures of the group when we were stopped at traffic lights. Throughout the tour, he would have our group change order so each couple had a chance to get their picture taken.
I had concerns about driving on the street with cars but there seem to be way fewer cars on the road in Tokyo than in other cities, and the drivers were respectful of our tour group. This tour is really only suited for Japan as it would be a disaster in any other country!
I got the hang of it pretty quickly and was a little nervous to accelerate until we hit our first big site: Rainbow Bridge. This was by far my favorite part of the tour. We put the pedal to the floor and zipped across the bridge with amazing views of the city over our left shoulders.
Once in Odaiba, we made a pit stop at the Telecom Center observation deck. We then headed back to the mainland and proceeded to drive by Tokyo Tower, through Roppongi, and finally Shibuya Crossing. It was exciting to drive through Shibuya, having crossed on foot earlier that day. After about 2 hours and 45 minutes, we made our way back to Shinagawa.
Back at the office, the tour guide AirDropped all of the photos he took to our cell phones, and also printed out one of the best photos of each of us as a souvenir.
MariCar was one of the highlights of our time in Tokyo, and certainly a great memory to have from our honeymoon. It was nice that the people on the streets seem to like seeing MariCar tours. It’s not like in Nashville when the locals are like “great, another Peddle Pub of drunk tourists.” While I was pretty cold by the end of the tour, the novelty didn’t wear off. It was genuinely one of the most fun experiences I’ve had while traveling. Even if you’re nervous about it like I was, know that that fear is unfounded. I never once felt unsafe and the tour guide made sure our group stayed together.