In Tokyo, you can dress up as Mario or Luigi or Wario or whatever Mario Kart character you desire (Toad is clearly the best Mario Kart character and has been for 25 years) and drive the streets in a real go-kart that looks very similar to what appears in the game. You can do this without a helmet and seat belt, too, though that will soon be changing.
That’s because, as you might have guessed, there have been some accidents.
According to The Japan Times:
Taking into account a recent spike in the number of users and a spate of accidents resulting in injury over the last year, the transport ministry has decided to revise the Road Transport Vehicle Act by next March, with a view toward strengthening safety regulations for go-karts.
The decision was made amid growing concerns over a traffic loophole that has permitted go-kart drivers to ply the streets without seatbelts and helmets. Go-karts, under the Transport Vehicle Act, are classified as scooters, the drivers of which are not required to wear seat belts. They are also categorized as four-wheel cars under the Road Traffic Law, allowing drivers to cruise roads without helmets.
The ministry is also planning to introduce a number of other safety requirements for drivers. These will include the setting up of rear-view mirrors at least 1 meter from the ground and a backlight at the highest point of the vehicle, a headrest requirement, the use of soft materials for the handle and the addition of a fender to prevent clothes from being caught in wheels.
How many of these go-karts are on the road? Fewer than 1,000, according to the BBC, though they are very popular with tourists, who pay up to $71 for two hours on the streets with them. One thing the new rules won’t fix is that many tourists simply aren’t used to driving on the left side of the road. It all sounds about as chaotic as a game of Mario Kart.