If it’s ever been your dream to drive through the streets of Tokyo on a go-kart, dressed as a character from a video game, this post is for you! I’d seen this in the news well before we knew we’d ever move to Japan, and thought ‘how awesome.’ Little did I know that less than two years later, we’d be cosplayed out in Mario Brothers finery, revving our way around the top sights of Tokyo and dodging cars.
After choosing our costumes (like I wasn’t going to be the princess), we got a quick safety rundown (don’t hit anything, stay double-file at stoplights, have fun!) and hopped in our karts to be on our way.
I was slightly nervous about the whole experience – at about five months pregnant, I wasn’t sure that driving in an unprotected go-kart through a major metropolitan area was going to be the safest idea – but since it was my idea, MBH & I decided to go for it. It was far, far safer than I’d expected. I never felt dangerous or out of control on the roads, and luckily, the only reservation they’d had available was on a Sunday morning, which was surprisingly slow on traffic in downtown Tokyo.
Which meant that we could go as fast as we wanted! We zoomed through major streets and passed notable landmarks, stopping for photos along the way. Here’s the famous Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world.
But today, we were the major attraction.
We drove through the upscale Roppongi Hills district, Shinagawa, through Shibuya, and had another quick stop at Tokyo Tower, with cars waving and taking photos of us throughout the day. We’re often photographed just by virtue of being blonde and unique in a sea of Japanese people, but driving in costume through Tokyo was a completely different experience.
We were photographed at every traffic light, parents would stop and point us out to their children to wave, and cars would slow down so the driver could get a quick shot of us. At one stoplight, after everyone in our group had posed and smiled and flashed the requisite peace signs at a group of teenagers who were snapping photos, the only one they hadn’t caught was MBH. So they yelled out “Mario! Mario!! MARIO!!!” until they finally got his attention, and it was exactly like being on a red carpet with a celebrity, given their reactions when MBH finally noticed.
After our time being adored throughout Tokyo was over, we decided to explore through Shinagawa, and it was only fitting that we ran across these to end the day!
If real-life Mario Kart is your thing, make a reservation here. You’ll need an international driver’s license and a healthy sense of adventure to tackle the streets at night. What we wish we’d known: You can plug in your phone to play music through your go-kart; we absolutely would have come prepared with a Nintendo playlist if we’d realized, and it’s the only thing that would have made the experience even more incredible.