If you’re like most of us, your only Mario Kart experience has been in video game form. But if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s gotten to take a real tour of Akihabara in style? Well, one, we envy you. And two, you know about MariCAR, Akiba’s own Mario Kart company.
Now, the government is taking a closer look at how MariCAR does its thing. Don’t worry, though — it’s not going anywhere. But it will be getting (we hope!) safer.
MariCAR Akihabara is a go-kart touring company that allows visitors (and locals) to take a trip through Akiba in style… and in costume! Visitors can rent costumes and drive around the streets of town together in a recreation of the game. Well, sort of.
As MariCAR notes on their website, they aren’t actually trying to be Mario Kart. So that means no banana peels and no turtle shells. (Yes, they actually say this on their site.)
So what do you need to participate besides the fee and some friends? Just a driver’s license from anywhere in the world. That’s it. Just a regular old license. Since the go-karts count as cars on the road, you need to be legally allowed to drive.
But that’s where a problem comes up…
MariCAR, Akiba Kart, and other similar companies could be seeing some changes soon. Why? Because Japan’s Ministry of Transport has to decide whether the vehicles count as cars or motorcycles.
Participants need a license to drive because they’re out on the road — which also means they don’t need helmets. That’s a nice aesthetic plus, as it means they can wear costume hats and hoodies. The problem comes in with regards to required road safety. Vehicles classed as “motorcycles” or similar require use of a helmet. However, vehicles classed as “cars” require seat belts. The karts have neither.
Due to this, go-kart tour companies will be required to fit their karts with seat belts in the very near future. Additionally, each kart will have a red brake light on the back. Further legislation could be discussed as soon as this month.
So how do fans and participants feel?… Pretty all right, actually. The companies are continuing their tours during the changeover, and no one seems bothered by having to be a little safer. Which is great — because the experience makes amazing memories for people, and a seat belt is a whole lot less invasive than a hospital visit.
Would you go karting in Akiba? Let us know in the comments!