You’re planning a trip to Tokyo…
and you really want to experience Mario Kart in real life,
but you don’t know where to begin.
Below is your guide to getting into that Kart and driving over Rainbow Bridge!
Here is everything you’ll need (minus the banana peels) to know before going Karting in Tokyo:
First, you will need to get in touch with MariCar on Facebook. They run their operation via Facebook. (click the link provided to be directed to their page).
You’ll need to message them to initiate your reservation. They have several courses, so be sure to check out their website while you are awaiting their response back to you. There are 7 shops that karting is available in Tokyo.
The best option is to choose something close to where you will be staying, unless you have a specific course in mind.
(Our shop was Tokyo Bay BBQ, not even close to where we were staying. I chose this course because it covered both Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower with a bonus of Shibuya Crossing)
Once you’ve picked a course, be sure you correspond with the MariCar crew the specified time of day and the date you’d like to reserve. There are multiple rides daily and evening rides are available.
You will be mixed in with a group of people if you are a party smaller than 8.
Next you will need to get all your paperwork together to confirm your registration. The MariCar crew will ask that you obtain an international permit to drive and have very specific requirements. You will need to read through their booking process on their website to ensure your permit will be excepted before you arrive. For US citizens, you can obtain your permit at any AAA location.
The MariCar crew will require you to message them with a photo of your permit to seal the deal, meaning your reservation is 100% confirmed. You will still need this permit when you arrive to Tokyo, so keep it in a safe place (we kept ours with our passports).
When you arrive to your shop to being your karting experience, don’t forget your passport and driving permit. It is mandatory to have in order to drive! Once you’ve checked in for your time, you will be given a tablet to read over the safety and driving regulations.
Be aware that you have an option to purchase insurance during your ride. I highly suggest you do! It’s inexpensive and will save your tail (pun intended) if something were to happen.
Now comes the fun part!
You’ve checked-in, you’ve gotten to see the karts and now your ready to start choosing which character you want to be. Each shop has a variety of characters to choose from including the usual suspects of Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Bowser. There are also disney characters, anime characters and more!
Though it may be difficult to choose, don’t spend too much time dwelling over it. Remember you’ll be in a larger group so it’s likely someone else will be dressed as the same character as you.
Also be aware that some of the costume sizing might be a little small for taller people!
Important note: Depending on the time of year you are in Tokyo; it could be a little cold and if you can’t handle the weather out walking the streets, then you may want to part take in their optional jackets provided to wear under your costume. You’ll be driving down the streets at fairly decent speeds, winds will be whipping. Bundle up!
Additional options for speakers, action cameras and to purchase your own costume (if you prefer a new one).
Depending on the time line of the group prior to you, there might be a small delay. The MariCar crew will call you by time so be available and listening for your time. Each facility has a fun hang out spot, so down time will still be enjoyable. (The Tokyo Bay BBQ shop has a hammock, coloring books and a set of drums in their upstairs lounge)
It’s time to ride…
Your MariCar crew will debrief you on the karts before putting you in one, they will cover the operation of the vehicle and explain their hand signals and importance of the kart formations during the course. Please pay attention while driving!!!
Though the experience is very fun and the MariCar crew enjoy taking you out, they also care about your safety! (I almost got ran off the road by a Japanese driver during our course; it was scary, but our crew was right there to ensure our safety!)
Night rides will include enhanced lighting on each kart, if you seek the additional ambience then opt for the later rides.
Each course is about 2-3 hours long. There will be a rest/ potty break half way through.
When you arrive back to the shop, you’ll return your costume (unless you purchased one) and any gear you rented. They will provide you with the sim card from your action cam (if you used one) and gather your Facebook information to share any photos they took of you during the ride! Do not forget your personal items before leaving and be sure to leave them feedback!