What is Maricar?
Marikar is a nick name of Nintendo’s Mario Kart commonly used in Japan. I hadn’t known there’s a real place we can do Mario Kart in Japan until one of my friends in the US told me. Maricar is a company that provides a driving tour in go-karts in Japan. You can dress up in hero characters’ costumes and drive around cities in Japan. The official website doesn’t say what kind of heroes costume they have clearly, but I saw Mario series characters such as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Bowser, Princess Peach, Toad, Wario, and other Japanese anime character like Goku from Dragon ball, Naruto, Doraemon and others which I don’t remember.
What you need to prepare before riding go-karts.
*Make a reservation by phone, e-mail, or Facebook in advance. Maricar is very popular for tourists, so it might not be a good idea to go to Maricar’s place without a booking. The earlier you make a booking, the better if you want to try it on a specific date and time.
*Prepare an International driver’s license and your passport. You drive on public streets by a Maricar’s go-kart, so you are not allowed to drive without the license that is legal in Japan. When I went to a Maricar place with my friends, there was a customer who forgot to bring his international driving license and Maricar staff refused him…I felt sorry for the poor guy, but that couldn’t be helped.
What you can do with Maricar’s service.
*Choose your favorite character’s costumes. Or you can bring your own cosplay costume, if you want. (Maybe Kirby, Link, Pikachu, Jugglypuff, Fox, Samus, Captain Falcon, Donkey Kong, and Ness would be nice so that you can reenact a scene of Super Smash Bros!)
*Drive on streets by a go-kart, and see famous sightseeing spots in Japan. (You can choose a location of Maricar place and a course from A,B or C)
*Instructors take many photos of you free of charge.
*They have additional options for Bluetooth Speaker, Action Camera which you can used to take a video while driving, or a fake mustache to become like a certain hero character.
What you cannot do with Maricar’s service
*You can’t take a picture while you’re driving. It’s dangerous to use your phone or camera when you’re driving. It’s okay to take them as long as traffic light is red and you stop though.
*You are not allowed to race each other no matter how much you like Mario Kart. While driving, you need to make a line and follow an Instructor’s go-kart for your safety. And you need to follow Japanese traffic rules, which never allow you to play Mario Kart race on streets.
*You are not allowed to throw banana peels, red or green turtle shells, or any other items to each other on the street. It’s also illegal to use a star and destroy your friend’s go-karts and other normal cars driving around you.
I turned into Mario! Ya-hooooo!
(The costume was too big for me since it was one size fits all)
I rode Maricar’s go-kart on weekday in March from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with my friends from the US. We went to Maricar place located in Akihabara, and chose course B, which is 2 hours driving to Odaiba and Tokyo Tower.
We arrived at the Maricar’s place at 7:00 and filled out a form. (about five minutes)
→ Chose our costumes and changed clothes.(about ten minutes) There’s no changing room, so I just put on Mario’s costume over my clothes.
→ Put our valuables into a locker (You can use it free of charge). Our instructor introduced himself in English and then he led us to where go-karts parked. (about five minutes.)
→ The instructor explained how to start engine, accelerate, brake, stop, and turn on and off blinkers. He also explained some rules of driving such as make a line when we drive, make two lines when we stop, and stop when a traffic light become red even if our line is interrupted, etc. (about five minutes)
→ Finally it’s time for us to ride go-karts!
I’m sure we chose the right time since the traffic was so smooth. I felt uncomfortable and scary driving the go-kart for the first thirty minutes or so, but I got used to it gradually, and enjoyed driving in the end. The weather was nice when we were driving, so we could see the beautiful night view. When we arrived in Odaiba area, we stopped near a shopping mall, and took a short break for rest room. I don’t know what people thought of us when they saw our group in Mario costumes walking towards the rest rooms together…
Maricar is not well known yet, so it was funny to see the reactions of people who saw we were driving with Mario character’s costume. Our instructor told us people might take some pictures of us while we are driving, so please smile! (It’s good advertising if people take some pictures of Maricar drivers and upload them in their Instagram, Twitters, or Facebook) Some people waved at us, and some guys said “Hey Mario! Look this way!” to me in a loud voice and then they took a picture of me. I felt like that I became a celebrity or something.
The Maricar company has some branches in Tokyo (Shinagawa, Shibuya, Akihabara), Yamanashi (Mr.Fuji), Osaka and Okinawa.
Official website: http://maricar.com/
“P.S. Maricar company was sued by Nintendo”
As you already know, Nintendo has the copy right of Mario series including Mario Kart. Nintendo sued Maricar company infringing their copyright. Nintendo wanted to prohibit Maricar from offering their services and required compensation for damages of 10 million yen. Nintendo insist that Maricar is the abbreviated designated name for Mario Kart, and it is unfair that they use the name for the company and lend costumes of Mario series characters to customers.
After this news spread, we couldn’t see Marica’s website temporarily. There’s no problem for their website now, and we can see Maricar’s announcement for this issue. If you want to know, check out Maricar’s website~!