(Image by .Martin. via https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinrp/32547930988/)
The options for seeing Tokyo are varied—from busy trains to taxis and of course cheapo-friendly feet, but what if you want something different? Here is how you can take to the roads in a real-life (but completely unofficial) “Mario Kart” in Tokyo.
“Mario Kart” in Tokyo: How It Works
The street-kart rental companies offer you the opportunity to drive through the city streets, as long as you have one of the approved driving licenses (listed below). Most go-karts are fitted with GPS and communication bands, and you will be following a tour guide at all times, so you do not need to worry about taking a wrong turn and ending up in, say, Hokkaido. You can also try go-karting under the neon-lights of Osaka or Kyoto.
Tokyo Go-Kart Tickets
You can get a good deal on tickets for your street karting in Tokyo experience by booking on Voyagin.
Choosing your shop and tour(s)
Though the number of Tokyo go-kart rental companies may have shrunk in recent months, you can still book tours through an outlet in Roppongi. They offer two courses:
- Short course, priced at ¥7,000: 35 minutes driving time, taking you around Minato Ward, including past Tokyo Tower
- “Popular” course, priced at ¥8,500: 90 minutes driving time, taking you around Harajuku, Shibuya Scramble Crossing and Roppongi (including Tokyo Tower)
Both of these Tokyo go-kart tour packages include:
- Quick go-kart lesson
- Fun costume
- Tour guide driver
- GPS & speakers (subject to availability)
- Fuel (and no, you don’t need to fill up on the way back)
- Accident insurance
Getting Kitted Out to Go-Kart in Tokyo
(Image by shankar s. via https://www.flickr.com/photos/shankaronline/48624349293/)
If you are going to zoom through the streets, you will need some accessories—either for safety or fun. Rentals typically include a face-guard mask and shades, plus your favourite costume. Depending on the shop, you can also sometimes rent LED shoes, a Bluetooth speaker or a 4K action camera. Memory cards might also be available if you need one—just ask.
One great element is that the shops do not prevent you from bringing your own cameras, costumes, or anything else—and don’t charge you either, so you can use your own equipment as you please.
Following Safety Precautions
Riding through the streets at knee-level might seem a bit dangerous when confronted with trucks, boy-racers, and never-re-tested pensioner-drivers, but the rental companies do have safety measures in place. Accident insurance is included, and there are some general rules to follow that are designed to keep you alive that little bit longer.
- No racing allowed
- Dress appropriately: no heels, sandals or long skirts allowed
- Follow your guide’s advice and route, including hand gestures and speed
What License Do You Need to Drive a Go-Kart in Japan?
Although it might look like a game, this adventure takes place on real-life streets and is regulated by Japanese law. Anyone wanting to drive a “Mario Kart” in Tokyo will need to have one of the following:
- A full Japanese driving license
- An International Driving Permit (used with your passport and home country license)
- This permit can only be obtained outside of Japan and lasts for one year from the date of entry to Japan and/or issuance.
- It must be issued under the 1949 Geneva Convention; the permit cannot be issued under the 1926 Paris Convention, the 1943 Washington Convention or the 1968 Vienna Convention.
- A SOFA driving license for members of US military forces in Japan
- An American driving license with US military ID is also acceptable.
- A foreign driving license issued in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Estonia, Taiwan, Slovenia, or Monaco. Residents of these countries are allowed to drive in Japan for one year from entry, provided they have a Japanese translation by an authorised organisation. Bring these two documents and your passport with you.
What About the Non-Drivers?
If you cannot drive, do not have the paperwork, or just do not trust yourself (or others) on the road, you can still take part in the fun. There is sometimes an option for a non-driver to travel in a special tuk-tuk and convertible to take photos of the team. The boarding fee of approximately ¥3,000 may be waived if the person travels in the same car as the staff. If that is not available, you can always park yourself at a cafe along the driving route and wave as the go-karts cruise past.
A Word of Warning Before You Roar Off
There have been a few incidents with people driving a go-kart in Tokyo, including a hit-and-run with a cyclist and some very, very dodgy driving on very busy roads. It cannot be stated enough that you need to drive responsibly at all times. Enjoy the experience, but keep in mind that you need to be extremely careful—and also respectful of your surroundings. Some go-karts have been getting on the nerves of local residents, so try to keep the peace.
Please check Voyagin
Please check Voyagin
Please check Voyagin