Live out your Mario Kart dreams on the streets of Tokyo

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN. Video by Black BuddhaUpdated 25th June 2018
(CNN) — Always dreamed of racing through city streets in your very own go-kart while wearing a Super Mario costume?
Let's-a-go to Japan!
Drawing comparisons to Nintendo's ever-popular Mario Kart racing games, MariCar provides go-kart tours in three Japanese cities: Tokyo, Osaka and Okinawa. Before hitting the road, visitors dress up in one of the available character costumes.

'It takes you out of your daily lives'

Mario Kart tour
Tokyo-based tour company MariCar offers a unique way to see the city.
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
"It's something to take you out of your daily lives," says Catherine Ishii, manager of MariCAR Tokyo.
"You wear costumes, you ride go-karts that kind of look like toys but actually is like a real car, so wearing the costume kind of puts you in the zone and then you're on the kart, and then you do the tour and it amps up the experience."
Anyone with an international driving permit or a valid Japanese driver's license can join the tour.
The karts can reach speeds of 80 kilometers per hour.
But instead of racing to overtake each other, MariCar drivers have to abide by public speed limits and the rules of the road.
"Even if you're only going like, 40 or 50 kilometers per hour, it feels like 80 and 90 because it's an open type of go-kart and you're really close to the ground," says Ishii.
Mario Kart tour
Travelers get to sightsee and be an attraction all at the same time.
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
In addition to Super Mario Bros characters, riders can choose from a variety of costumes, such as Superman or Minions.
"I think it's silly to a degree," says the manager. "I think that's why you can't stop smiling. Everybody ends with a smile."
It's even spawned copycat events.
A few cities in Australia are now offering Mushroom Racing, another Mario Kart-inspired experience. However these are actual races and held on enclosed circuits.

Accidents and legal dispute

Running the gimmicky street kart tour isn't without road bumps.
A few accidents involving MariCar drivers have reportedly occurred since the tour started running in Tokyo in 2015.
It was also involved in a legal dispute with Nintendo, when the company filed a lawsuit against MariCar for offering a Mario Kart-inspired experience without Nintendo's permission in 2017.
MariCar was allowed to keep the trademark and continue to provide tours after the Japan Patent Office ruled against Nintendo. Its website now includes a disclaimer saying MariCar is "in no way a reflection of the game Mario Kart."