Japan: 10 things you need to know before Real Life Mario Go Karting in Tokyo

Whether you’re reading this blog post and hearing about MariCar for the first time OR MariCar is already on your radar for your next trip to Tokyo, you’ve come to the right place! I included some tips that I wasn’t really able to find online prior to my experience. So without further ado, here are 10 things you should know before riding MariCar! Feel free to leave me any comments with questions or things you want to share with everyone as well 🙂

ALSO READ – Things to do in Japan

(#1) Believe it or not, you’re actually driving go karts on real roads beside real cars! So this means you’ll need an international driver license. I can’t speak on the requirements for other countries but in Canada you will need to obtain your international driver’s license through CAA. After getting your ‘passport’ photos taken, you take the photos to a local CAA office and they will process and give you your international driver’s license within 30 minutes. Licenses are valid for 1 year from date issued. Some CAA locations offer on-site ‘passport’ photography services.

(#2) We made our MariCar online several months in advance. Oddly enough, the best way to reach them for any questions & reservations is through good old Facebook Messenger. They were very knowledgeable and responsive and were usually able to get back to us within a few hours.

(#3) No you are not allowed to throw shells &  banana peels. I don’t know how many times our instructor stressed this point during our orientation.

(#4) MariKart has many different locations & time slots. We picked “Shibuya – Short Tokyo Tour” because let’s face it, it’ll probably be a “once in a life time” thing to drive through the world famous busy Shibuya crossing.  We opted for the 1 hour course, which we thought was more than enough time go karting. Other courses routes pass by Odaiba and Tokyo Tower and other popular tourist destinations but ultimately it depends on personal preference (You can click on OTHER SHOPS on MariCar.com to view their other locations & tours). We conveniently go karted during lunch time on a Saturday afternoon at one of the Shibuya crossing prime times (Thank you Eden! lol) . I can’t say if its better to go kart during day or night – we enjoyed our ride during the day but I can also see the appeal of driving through the hustle and bustle at night.

(#5) The Go Kart itself – Let me start off by saying that although I have a valid G driver’s license in Canada, I don’t ever drive. Nor have I ever go karted, so you can imagine how panicked I was. I wasn’t used to the Go Kart pedals which had me braking with my left foot (the brake was quite stiff) and accelerating on my right, but I got the hang of it within the first few minutes. Our instructor could tell I was extremely nervous so she suggested I stay right behind her throughout the tour (haha!). Last but not least,there are no seat belts and we were going up to 60 km/h on some stretches! But I assure you, the entire experience felt safe. Sorry mom!

(#6) Our instructor spoke fluent English and her instructions from turning on the go karts to expectations of driving on the streets were crystal clear. While we were not expecting it at all, our instructor also very kindly took a lot of photos (at red lights), videos on her phone for free. We didn’t opt for the “photo shoot’ experience so that was quite nice! When we returned to the Go Kart Centre, she airdropped all 50+ photos to us!

(#7) MariCar will lend you costumes and face masks (for the gas). Some items may cost you extra but there wasn’t anything basic that costed us extra. One of the workers at the Go Kart Centre was kind enough to lend us a free go pro chest strap (we brought the go pro ourselves).  You might be able to luck out if you’re also looking for a go pro strap but don’t bank on this!

(#8) MariCar provided free lockers for us to use. I can’t remember if we brought a lock but we did keep our valuables with us in the costume pockets (make sure there are no holes in the costumes as some of them have a bit of wear and tear from overusage)

(#9) Depending on which location you go to (I can only speak for the Shibuya location), there were plenty of costumes for the same character. Though, I would suggest arriving early so you can take your time choosing the costumes and making sure they look and more importantly feel comfortable. I mean, lets be real, you are driving in a foreign city in a go kart with real cars around you so you might as well make sure you feel comfortable!

(#10) Prepare to be seen and be ready to pose for photos! Remember that you will be in costume driving in go karts around some of the main tourist locations in Tokyo and you and your group too are a moving tourist attraction!

That’s it from me guys! Hope you guys find this post helpful & be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or tips you want to add as well! If you’re heading to Japan, feel free to also check out my other Travel Japan Posts Here

Written by Grace Yeung
Edited by Eden Yeung

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