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Recently as part of my epic round the world trip with my son, we had a bit of time in Tokyo Japan. One of the things that we knew we wanted to do was what was previously known as Mario Kart Tokyo – a real life go-karting through the streets of Tokyo. In years past, you could actually dress up in Nintendo-themed costumes like Mario and Luigi, but unfortunately Nintendo either sued them or forced them to stop allowing people to use Nintendo-themed costumes. They now have a variety of different other costumes you can wear, including Disney, Pokemon and other. I went with Pikachu and my son was Goofy, though he also brought his Super Mario Odyssey “Cappy” cap.

a person in a yellow robe

How to Book Mario Kart Tokyo 2023

So to be clear, there is not really a Mario Kart Tokyo any more – I think at one point they called themselves “Marikar” but now the Tokyo street kart go-karting provider is called Monkey Kart. You can book them directly, but I chose to book them through Viator. It was not cheap (about USD$140 per person) but this was one of the big things my son wanted to do while we were on our trip. There were several different street karting tour options in Tokyo listed on Viator – the one I went with was called “Kart experience in Shinjuku drive metropolitan area“.

They have one hour and two hour options – we chose the 1 hour street karting Tokyo option, which takes you through Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower and several other sites. Two things to be aware of before booking your Monkey Kart Tokyo experience:

  • It is weather dependent – if it is raining, your tour will likely be canceled. So if you have several days in Tokyo, you might consider booking this earlier in your trip in case it rains on your tour day
  • You absolutely completely 100% MUST bring an International Driver’s Permit, or another type of license that is valid to drive in Japan. For people with US driver’s licenses, you can not just bring your US license. You need an IDP, which you can get for $20 at AAA.

Almost all of the 1-star reviews on Viator are from people that couldn’t race because of not bringing an IDP. Side note – I don’t know if it’s a language thing or not but the company is quite vicious in replying back to people that leave them negative reviews on Viator.

Getting to Monkey Kart Tokyo 2023 and What to Bring

Monkey Kart is located in the Shinjuku area. The address I was given for meeting was

  • Monkey Kart SHINJUKU
    Japan, 〒151-0073 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Sasazuka, 3-chōme−33−2

It’s about a 10 minute walk from Sasuzaka station on the Shinjuku subway line, though it’s not a direct path – you’ll want to follow a GPS or maps app as there were several turns to get from Sasuzaka to the Monkey Kart shop.

They do have lockers and a place that you can leave your bags if you need to – we were coming directly from the Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kiyosumi Shirakawa and heading down to Osaka right after, so we brought our carryon rollerboard suitcases and a backpack and it was not a problem to leave our bags there.

a man wearing a yellow garment

Monkey Kart / Mario Kart Tokyo Review

We got there about an hour before our 11 a.m. tour which was way more than we needed to. There aren’t bathrooms at Monkey Kart – instead the nearest bathrooms are either back at Sasuzaka station or at a 7-11 about a 5 minute walk from the shop.

When it was time for our tour to begin, I was a bit nervous because it seemed like there were way more people there than there were go-karts available, but it worked out as several other groups came back in time for us to start. You are sent in groups of 6 with 1 tour guide

a person in a yellow outfit on a go kart

They give you a short safety briefing as well as an explanation of how the carts work, and then you are off. You are following a guide the whole time and are usually in 3 rows of 2 carts. We were in the middle row.

a group of people driving go karts

two people in yellow suits on go karts

The tour lasts about an hour and then you return to the same spot you started at. You are not supposed to be using your phone while driving, but you can use your phone to take pictures if/when you’re stopped at traffic lights. The guide also takes a ton of pictures during the tour and then shared them with the group either via AirDrop or WhatsApp (there is wifi available at the Monkey Kart shop).

I think my overall Monkey Kart Tokyo review is how cool it felt – TONS of people took pictures of us as we were driving through Tokyo – it was almost enough to forget that *I* wasn’t a tourist too – instead I felt like part of the show that “those other tourists” were taking pictures and videos of 🙂

Is Monkey Kart Tokyo Safe?

I was a bit nervous going into our Monkey Kart Tokyo tour as to whether or not it would be safe. My son is only 18 and while he’s a good driver, he obviously doesn’t have a ton of experience. Coupled with Japan driving on the left side of the road made me wonder if Monkey Kart Tokyo would be safe.

two men in yellow clothing on go karts

I’m pleased to report that for us at least, it felt completely safe and I never felt like it was something where I was at much risk. It’s pretty much “follow the leader”. Our guide was named Izzy and she would give 2 different hand signals – either 1 or 2 fingers, indicating whether we should go single file or double up in 3 rows of 2. You do go around 30 or 40 kilometers per hour, so you’re going fairly fast and in regular traffic, but again, to me at least, it did not feel unsafe.

The Bottom Line

It was on my son’s bucket list to do what he referred to as “real life Mario Kart” – go karting through the streets of Tokyo. We went with Monkey Kart Shinjuku which was a great (although somewhat pricey) experience. Still, we both felt like it was worth it and was one of the highlights from our trip to Japan.

You can book the Tokyo street karting experience directly with Monkey Kart or book through Viator. Monkey Kart Shinjuku Tokyo was a highlight of our trip to Japan, and if you read the other comments, you’ll see that is a review commonly shared with people who have done it.

Is Mario Kart / Monkey Kart Tokyo go-karting on your bucket list? Or have you done the Tokyo street karting? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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