One question led us to the door of Maricar in Tokyo earlier this year.
“What if we did a tour of Tokyo in go-karts?”
The answer was obviously yes!
My wife and I have been a big fan of doing tours on vacations. It started with a Segway tour of Rome which helped us with understanding the layout of the city and spotting new places we wanted to check out. We’ve been a fan of tours on wheels ever since.
Maricar, no relation to Nintendo and Mario Kart, is based out of Japan with locations across Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Okinawa. Riders are able to dress up as their favorite characters from multiple properties including Nintendo, Marvel, DC, Dreamworks, and more, as guides take them on a tour in the particular city. Riders can choose between a 1.5-2 hour or a 2.5-3 hour tour based off the package they chose.
In order to drive one of the karts, riders will need to have a Japanese Driver’s License or an International Driving Permit. Living in the United States, my wife and I opted for the International Driving Permit which was fairly easy and painless process to acquire at an AAA office.
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Upon arriving at one of Maricar’s Tokyo locations, we were greeted by our guides for the day and a fellow rider in our group. My wife and I got to choose our costumes, Yoshi and Mario respectively, and received a breakdown of the rules on the road before heading out.
It’s pretty easy to see the go-karts as miniature cars. You’ve got your accelerator, brakes, signal and steering wheel. The karts themselves are well maintained and much faster than I expected. Since the karts are driven on the main roads and highways, they can accelerate up to 70 mph. Yea, these aren’t your average go-karts!
The experience of touring Tokyo with Maricar was fantastic. The tour guides constantly kept the group entertained and provided great guidance as we took the go-karts out onto the streets. Our group was updated with what was coming next, and things to keep an eye out for. When opportunities arose, the guides took pictures of the group which were later printed as souvenirs. This is important as you’ll find yourself driving next to everyday traffic, including buses and trucks.
Driving the karts themselves was easy to pick-up, but being a confident driver goes a long way in regards to your comfort driving the go-kart. I never felt in danger, but at moments it could be a bit daunting when a bus or truck towers past you in the next lane. You’ll also feel every bump in the road so keeping both hands on the wheel is a must.
Cellphone usage is forbidden by law while driving, but you can take pictures while stopped. Phones and small items are stored in a pouch that is kept by the steering wheel. Riders can use rent a GoPro or use their own to record the trip as well. Just be sure to pack an additional battery as you’re likely going to need to change it at some point.
I only came away with a few minor grievances from the tour. Coming off Segway tours in Rome and Zurich, I felt there was a lack of history about the areas we were driving through. The noisiness of the karts was a bit off-putting at first. Japan is a very quiet country and the go-karts felt a bit out of place with their loud engines. That said, we generally were met with a lot of positive attention from locals and tourists.
If you find yourself planning a trip to Japan, I’d recommend booking a tour with Maricar. Grab yourself a night tour and soak in the lights and nightlife as you race through the famous Shibuya crossing, drive up to Tokyo Tower, and blaze across the Rainbow Bridge. It’s a truly memorable experience that you won’t easily forget!