So this is totally not a food related post but in case you don’t follow me on Instagram, one of the highlights of our trip to Japan was becoming Mario and Yoshi and driving through the streets of Osaka in my very own Mario Kart! MariCAR is a company that provides this once in a lifetime experience and also has a Tokyo location which I’m super keen to try when we go back!
You’ll need to have made a reservation to be able to live out your Mario Kart dreams, this can be done by calling or going through the website (which will redirect you to Facebook messenger).
MariCAR’s headquarters is at 3 Chome-1-10 Ōhiraki, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 553-0007. The nearest train station is either Noda or Yodogawa Station or the Tamagawa Subway, about 30mins from Osaka. It’s about a 15min walk from the station so be sure to leave enough time, you need to be there 30 mins before start time for road rules and costume changing otherwise you’ll eat into your driving time!
You’ll need an International Drivers Licence. In Australia it’s pretty easy to get, you can go online on the NRMA website and they’ll send it out to you within 2 weeks but because we left ours to the last minute we went to an actual branch (check online to make sure which branch processes International Drivers Licences cos not all of them do it and not all are open on the weekend; we went to the Burwood Westfield location). You’ll need a passport photo of yourself, your Drivers Licence, $39 and about 30mins of your lifespan waiting in the queue.
Then hand over 9,000 yen (approx. AUD$102); you’ll get 2,000 yen back if at the end of the day you like their FB page and write a quick review after the drive.
Make your costume selection! There’s heaps of Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Pikachu, Hello Kitty, Donald Duck and Minions onesies. And it does get a bit chilly during the late afternoon time slot so be sure to wear pants and a light sweater. There’s lockers to store your bags, you won’t be allowed to bring anything with you other than your passport and your phone which is kept in a bag chained to the kart. Phones aren’t allowed to be used when driving but there were heaps of stops where we’d pull over and snap pics.
You can hire a Gopro off them and they’ll strap it to you (get them to strap it to your head otherwise you’ll get a bunch of shots of the steering wheel like we did lol) so you can record vids but they’ll also take heaps of pics of you and the group and airdrop it to your phone afterwards for free in case you’re not a selfie pro 😛
Onto the road rules section with a super cute mockup of the roads with instructions on how the karts should line up when stopped at traffic lights, how we should drive in single file, basic instructions on the traffic lights, speed limits and what to do if you get split off from the rest of the group. We’re specificaly told not to throw bananas or any objects at each other haha
And then we were assigned our go carts and tested if our headlights and indicators worked. 1 staff member is at the front leading the way and the second staff member stays in the middle in case anyone falls behind or gets stuck at the lights. And away we go! We got a few mins to get used to our go cart in the back lanes before we hit the main roads.
The first 15mins passed in a blur because I was remembering how it’s been YEARS since I last drove but eventually relaxed and got to take in the sights of Osaka, there was a nice mix of downtown streets and a couple of side streets we waited at for whenever our group got split by traffic lights. People on the street all seemed super surprised to see us and would stop to take pics of us haha felt like celebs!
Yes it’s a little freaky driving a tiny gocart so close to other cars but because you’re in a group and the average speed was 20-30lm/hr, the max speed was 40-50km/hr but that was only for about 5mins at a time so I felt pretty safe other than the whole no helmets or seatbelt thing haha
IT’S A MEEEE MARIOOOO! Driving a gocart is obvs less smoother than a normal car so be prepared to bounce around a bit more over any potholes or grates on the street.
But luckily there was a 10min break about halfway through for anyone needing the bathroom or to stretch your legs or take more selfies haha
Our guides were awesome, pointing out attractions along the way and always checking to make sure we were safe and having fun. We really appreciated all the photos they took for us too and loved how super enthusiastic they were, they really enjoy what they do! Definitely an incredible experience and one I can’t wait to do again!