Among different tourist attractions, one thing that many people don’t know about is a pretty developed go-karting scene in Japan. Yes, you heard it right, this western motorsports is equally available and loved in Japan like different parts of the world.
Go-karting, or more specifically, Mario karting, is a popular way of traveling through the cities as tourists. However, the rules of go-karting and how they work in Japan are completely different from other parts of the world. So, whether you are a Japanese or tourist from overseas, I have brought you the perfect plan of go-karting in Japan.
Go-karting price, legality, license, and availability, everything has been covered to give you the perfect idea about how the whole go-karting thing works in Japan. So, without further ado, let’s see how you can enjoy go-karting.
Are Go-Karts Legal in Japan?
Yes, go-karts are absolutely legal in Japan. Whether you are using go-karts to roam around cities or race in designated tracks, go-karts are permitted by Japan’s transport authorities. In fact, the rules and regulations about the legality of go-karts are more flexible than most other parts of the world.
For example, in the US, a go-kart owner has to undergo several modifications and testing before the kart becomes street legal. Additionally, the rules vary from state to state, making things more complicated.
On the other hand, there is nothing you need to do to ride a go-kart in Japan’s street. There are companies that rent them, and with proper licensing, you can ride them easily without worrying about the legality.
According to Japan’s road transport vehicle act, go-karts are categorized as four-wheelers and scooters. Therefore, this rule alone basically opens up the door for go-kart legality in Japan. Though the rules and regulations are getting stricter every year, go-kart remains legal widely in this country.
How Much Does Go-Karting in Japan Cost?
Go-kart in japan comes in a wide range of prices. Additionally, depending on the city, go-karting company, your ride’s duration, and sometimes costume, the cost can go up and down.
From my experience, I would say the cost of go-karting is relatively cheaper in Japan. My statement stands for both race tracks and city tours by go-karts. Again, it’s not possible to tell a fixed price here, but I’ll try to give you a general idea about the cost so that you can plan your go-karting according to the budget.
Instead of lengths, the go-karting cost is mostly decided according to the time period of your ride. There are packages of different time lengths, typically from 15-90 minutes. On average, these packages can cost you anywhere between ¥5000 to ¥9000, which is roughly around $44 to $80. Often, these packages come with extra perks like costumes, safety briefing, and other necessary accessories.
Mario Kart in Tokyo: How it Works
In case you don’t know, karting companies in Tokyo allow drivers to wear fun costumes during their go-karting tour. This Mario kart is originally a popular racing game series developed by Nintendo, a popular Japanese video game company. In this popular variant of go-karting, you can choose from different characters from Nintendo’s popular Mario series.
To participate in Mario karting in Japan, first, you have to contact and book a package from the available go-karting companies in Tokyo. Then, depending on the package and company, you’ll get a safety briefing, primary safety gear, tour guide, insurance, and most importantly, the costume of your desired Mario character.
The go-karts are also equipped with GPS and communication bands. It helps to avoid getting separated from the bunch and losing the way. Once you have booked the package, you’ll have to come to the designated spot on a certain date to start your tour. Usually, lockers are provided to store your personal belongings before you head to the Mario karting tour.
However, depending on weather or other circumstances, you can apply for cancellation. To do that, you need to contact the company to know their policies regarding this matter.
What License is Required to Drive go-Kart in Japan?
Though Japan’s authority is pretty flexible to allow companies to rent karts for street tours, the case is entirely different regarding individual driving permission. When it comes to driver’s licenses, Japan has one of the strictest sets of rules. There are only four types of driving licenses that can open the door for you if you want to go-kart in Japan.
- Japanese driving license
This one is pretty obvious since we are talking about Go-Karting in Japan. This license is applicable for Japanese citizens who are planning their go-karting tours.
To obtain the standard driving license, you must be at least 18 years of age. Japan’s prefectural government’s public safety commissions issue this license, and the national police agency oversees it.
- International driving permit
This license is mostly applicable to tourists visiting from other countries. An international driving license works as a translation of your national driving license.
Typically, it’s issued by your home country’s transportation authorities, for example, AAA (American Automobile Association) and AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance) in the US.
Your home country also has to be a signatory of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Upon arrival in Japan, an international driving permit has an expiration period of one year.
- SOFA driving license
SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) driving license is also accepted if you want to ride a go-kart in Japan. SOFA refers to an agreement between the host country and the foreign forces stationed there.
Since the only foreign force stationed in Japan is the US military, their members can drive go-karts with a SOFA driving license. Additionally, US military members with an American driving license and military ID are permitted to drive.
- Foreign driving licenses
Nation licenses of a handful of countries are accepted in Japan to drive a go-kart. These countries include Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Slovenia, Monaco, and Taiwan.
If you happen to be a citizen of any of these countries mentioned above, you have permission to drive in Japan for one year upon arrival with a Japanese translated copy by proper authority. To drive the go-kart, you must show the original and translated copy of the driving license alongside your passport.
How Non-Drivers Can Ride Go-Kart in Japan
Unfortunately, there is no option for non-drives to ride go-kart in Japan in city tours. As the city tours will require you to drive on actual roads with traffic and many other karts, you must be qualified and licensed to ride the go-kart.
Though you can’t ride the go-kart in person, there are a few ways you can take part in the fun and enjoy go-karting. Some go-karting companies offer convertible or special tuk-tuks that ride the go-karts for the city tour. If y agree to board those with the staff, you can enjoy the tour with a relatively lower cost of around ¥3,000 ($27).
However, if you don’t have that option, the least you can do is wait by the side of the driving route, take photos, and wave at your friends, family, and fellow tourists as they pass by.
Go-kart Racing in Yokohama, Japan
Go-karting in Yokohama is a similarly fun experience as people do in Tokyo. In fact, some people even like the Yokohama go-kart tours more because of different landmarks and tourist attractions. Depending on the company, you’ll get a two to three hours tour, just the perfect amount of time to touch all the major attractions in the city.
These tours will let you see the beauty of Yokohama from a whole different angle. Now, as far as racing goes, there are not many options available in Yokohama. However, if you badly want to race, there are some decent racing track options within a driving distance from Yokohama.
For the best racing experience near Yokohama, you can check out Big Bang kart circuit, Ooi Mazda kart land and Atsugi Trellis indoor kart circuit. These go-kart racing tracks are in the same prefecture and less than an hour of drive from Yokohama. Check my Go-Racing Tips article to know more about go-kart racing.
Precaution you should follow before riding go-kart in Japan
As fun as riding a go-kart, this enjoyable experience can easily turn into a disaster if you don’t follow the necessary precautions before riding a go-kart. In recent years, there have been some unwanted incidents of hit-and-run that also make Japanese authorities to strict their rules regarding go-kart city tours.
Even with all the rules and regulations, you can never be too sure about your safety. So, here are some precautions you should follow before your next go-kart ride in Japan.
- Though it’s not related to safety, it’s important to safeguard your belongings. When booking your go art tour, make sure the company provides you with a locker to stash your belongings. Also, try to bring as less stuff as possible with you to these city tours.
- In the excitement of wearing your favourite character’s costume, don’t forget about the safety equipment. Always put on seatbelts and try to wear a helmet to ensure safety.
- Carefully follow the safety briefing by the instructor before you hit the road. While you are on the road, always remember it’s not a race, and you are here to roam on the go-kart.
- Follow the signs and signals on the road cautiously. A city tour will take you on regular roads with regular cars and other bigger vehicles; it’s a must to maintain your safety.
Lastly, respect the surroundings while you are driving on the roads of Japanese cities. Driving a go-kart might be a fun tour for you, but it can be equally daunting for local residents. So, please don’t do anything to get on their nerves.
Q: What is in cosplay go-karting Tokyo?
A: It’s exactly what the name implies. In Japan, simply riding around the city in a go-kart isn’t fun enough. That’s why go-karting companies in Tokyo offers their drives different fun costume to wear during city tours from various anime and video games.
Unfortunately, the biggest company to offer this cosplay go-karting, Marikart, has been shut down after a legal dispute with Nintendo. But still, other companies are offering cosplay go-karting Tokyo.
Q: What are the facilities of go-karting for kids in Japan?
A: Unfortunately, kids are not allowed to drive the city tour karts, as they aren’t eligible for the required licenses. You should keep that in mind before coming to these city tours.
However, if you want your kid to enjoy karting race tracks, you can definitely have that facility there. Most of the tracks offer kid’ kart and dual karts to enjoy kart with your little kids.
Q: How much does it cost to drive Mario Kart in japan?
A: Cost of driving Mario karts is just as same as riding other karts, as I mentioned above in the article. Most of the kart circuits also charge on a timely basis, and if you calculate and compare that with Mario kart city rides, the cost comes to the same territory.
However, as different companies offer Mario karts, the price can be a bit higher depending on their extra perks or the costume you choose.
Japan has always been a tourist hotspot due to the perfect blend of eastern culture and western modernization. The popularity of go-karting in Japan just proves how Japan has widely adapted this beloved motor vehicle from western countries.
Whether you are a local resident of Japan or a tourist planning a visit there, this article should give you a clear idea about the requirements, availability, and pricing of go-karting . Japan has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions, and go-karting allows you to explore the beauty of this country from a whole different point of view.
Additionally, the touch of anime and video games adds more fun to the mix. So, if you are currently or will be in Japan, don’t forget to take the go-karting tour as it’ll be an experience of a lifetime for you.