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Did you know that Mario Kart­themed go-kart tours on Ja­panese pub­lic roads is a thing? With a three-week long snow­board­ing trip ahead of us on the moun­tain of Niseko a quick stop over in Tokyo was on the cards and for us, Mar­iCar was an ab­so­lute must.

What bet­ter way to see some of Tokyo’s most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions than throw­ing our bunch of rev-head Aus­tralians in Yoshi cos­tumes and turn­ing us loose in a 50cc go-kart on the streets of Tokyo?

I would go as far as to say this ex­pe­ri­ence, with the ex­cep­tion of jump­ing out of a he­li­copter onto a snow cov­ered moun­tain, is by far the best thing I have done in all my years. Here’s why.

With a group of eight, book­ing for this ex­pe­ri­ence was vi­tal but very eas­ily done via the Mar­iCar Face­book page and no ad­vance pay­ment was re­quired. We did, how­ever have to ob­tain our in­ter­na­tional driv­ers li­cence be­fore jet­ting out of Aus­tralia – but again, this was as sim­ple as stop­ping it at your mo­tor­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion with a pass­port photo.

Af­ter sign­ing some li­a­bil­ity waiver forms that, with­out a word of a lie, make you swear you are not car­ry­ing any ba­nana peels and or tor­toise shells, we got into our cos­tumes, which are in­cluded in the cost.

There were many dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters to choose from and not all Mario Kart re­lated, but as a purist, I went with Mario, while my part­ner chose Luigi and the rest of the group con­tin­ued the theme. The cos­tumes were cute, goofy sin­gle-piece suits and also warm! Thank­fully, Mar­iCar also of­fers com­pli­men­tary gloves as every­one in our group had failed to re­alise the Fe­bru­ary tem­per­a­ture in Tokyo can drop into mi­nus fig­ures. We had a good laugh at

each other and jumped into the carts.

Our friendly tour leader did a fan­tas­tic job at ex­plain­ing how to drive the thing; his in­struc­tions were sim­ple – ac­cel­er­a­tor on the right and brake on the left, drive in one line be­hind him and go two-by-two at traf­fic light stops. Sim­ple.

Amaz­ingly, Ja­panese law does not cur­rently re­quire driv­ers to wear hel­mets while liv­ing out their Mario Kart fan­tasies, and seat­belts are also not manda­tory.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Ja­pan To­day re­ports that not only is there a rise in the num­ber of kart-re­lated in­juries and in­ci­dents of prop­erty dam­age, but that for­eign driv­ers are re­spon­si­ble for 86 per cent of them. Of course, that fig­ure doesn’t break things down in terms of ba­nana peel ver­sus tor­toise shell ac­ci­dents, but it does cat­e­gorise na­tion­al­i­ties and age groups.

North Amer­i­can males in their 20s are the chief of­fend­ers, South Kore­ans are re­spon­si­ble for two-thirds as many ac­ci­dents, fol­lowed by China, Tai­wan and Aus­tralia, re­spec­tively. Peo­ple in their 20s and 30s are re­spon­si­ble for 90 per cent of ac­ci­dents, a fig­ure which should sur­prise no­body.

We drove from Shibuya to Tokyo bay BBQ shop be­fore cross­ing the Rain­bow Bridge at 80km/h. If I can com­pare this with any­thing it would be the Tokyo version of Mel­bourne’s Bolte Bridge – wa­ter on one side and semi­trail­ers in the right lane!

From there we made our way to the fa­mous Tokyo Tower then back across Rain­bow Bridge fol­lowed by Odaiba where we stopped to gather our com­po­sure and a photo op­por­tu­nity with an oddly placed Statue of Lib­erty replica, then lastly over Tokyo Gate Bridge.

Mar­iCar –The clos­est thing to real-life Mario Cart on the streets of Tokyo. The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence in­clud­ing a stick-on mous­tache (es­sen­tial) will set you back less than $A100 for just over three hours at the wheel. If you com­pare this with Vic­to­ria's Phillip Is­land GoKart Cir­cuit at $80 per half hour I’d say that’s in­cred­i­ble value for money and a hell of a lot more fun. I will cer­tainly be see­ing Tokyo from a Mar­iCart again.


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