Crap. Yoshi’s nose doesn’t fit over my head. I have an explanation, I promise.
Yoshi, Mario, King Boo, Sonic the Hedgehog, and all their fun friends, most of whom were born in Japan, have been by my side most of my life. Now, I’m donning a bright green Yoshi costume and about to race off in a go-kart through the streets of Tokyo. Does that explain it for you?
Until I did it, I didn’t actually realize how nostalgic (and relaxing) real-life Mario Kart would be. It’s not like the nostalgia you get when visiting the cute little antiquated shops that are littered with figurines, pillows, and costumes. It’s about stepping into an archaic, noise-ridden machine, and really living those characters. It was pretty exhilarating.
People are definitely going to think this is dumb, I tell myself.
My friends and husband have already picked out Toad, Luigi, and Pikachu costumes. As we’re getting set up and briefed in our karts, I realize I still don’t know where we are going.
Do we have a map? What’s the route? What if we get lost?
Soon enough, we’re all zooming away, and it’s then I realize that we are in perfectly capable hands. We have a guide in the front and one in the back, and both are blocking and directing traffic for us as we enter the mad rush of Tokyo traffic.
As soon as I put my foot on the gas, the adrenaline kicks in—it’s a juvenile rush, and nothing else matters. That pile of laundry on the table? It can wait. Homework, kids, cleaning, and anyone sending me messages from work? All those can wait.
Why? Because I’m now riding through Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world, at night, in a go-kart, wearing a Yoshi costume.
We were superstars. It felt as if every single Japanese person was videotaping us, and some even came onto the road to take pictures with us. A permanent smile was plastered on my face; we were driving licensed go-karts through one of the busiest cities on earth. Roppongi, Tokyo Tower, and the New Sanno—we drove by it all. Our bilingual guides took stellar photos, and never left our side.
MariCAR is one of those experiences unique to Tokyo. You simply cannot experience it anywhere else. Eventually, MariCAR wants to expand to Hawaii and the USA, but the experience won’t be the same as blitzing past the icons of Tokyo. Take your GoPro, belongings, and driver’s license (see website), and a serious amount of excitement.
Some would rather spend the ¥6,000 for 2-3 hours on a fancy dinner, massage, or onsen treatment. But MariCAR is one of those experiences that doesn’t come around very often, and it’s worth it just for the jump back in time.
MariCAR, open from 10am-10pm. Email, call or text via LINE to make a reservation. Must have an approved license to drive (see website). www.maricar.com. +81-3-6712-8275. firstname.lastname@example.org.