Tokyo’s Go-Karts

ByMichael Stigall
Apr 30, 2024

Tokyo’s Go-Karts

If you’ve been in Tokyo’s tourist areas for just a few hours, you might have caught a glimpse of a fleet of go-karts with costume-clad drivers speeding through the streets. Even if you haven’t seen them up close, you may have heard of them or even caught them all over YouTube and on TV. Street Kart gives visitors and even residents a new way to speed through town behind the wheel, take in the sights, and have an enjoyable and unique experience at the same time.

Countless reviews have been done about them since their inception, and the vast majority of them are overwhelmingly positive. There was some press a few years ago talking about minor traffic accidents that involved the company’s vehicles, a few natives calling the tourist’s romp around town “disturbing and maybe dangerous,” But it’s no more hazardous than riding an electric bike or moped around town which is easier to rent!

Karting on city streets? Is this legal?

Yes, it is completely legal. Go-karts under 50cc with turn signals, head and tail lamps, mirrors and other safety equipment are classified as low-powered on-road vehicles by Japanese Motor Vehicle Code and sport a small blue license plate. You’ll see the same one on some small delivery motor-trikes and micro-cars. It’s entirely legal to drive a similarly equipped ATV on the street too.

First, some requirements

One big requirement: you need driving documents. An International Driver’s Permit or valid Japanese Driver’s License will do. Some other types of documents/driving licenses are OK, but the bottom line is there are no exceptions to the rules. No documents, no karting.

So how do I do it?

  • First, you need to pick what area you want to tour. Akihabara, Asakusa, Shibuya, Odaiba, etc.… A different kart garage serves each region.
  • Then you’ll need to visit the website for that particular garage. They don’t make it easy at all here as different companies own all the different garages under a franchise license. I’ve gone ahead and done some of the hard work for you by listing the Tokyo area ones below.
  • Each mini-site will show the types of courses, options, and other details about the areas they operate in. Make sure you have an idea about the dates, times, course and number of people in your own party.
  • To check availability, book or just ask questions by sending them a message on either the LINE or Facebook Messenger address on the website. It’s much faster than their web form. You can also call them as well if that’s easier for you. Remember, each location has a different SNS address so be careful!

And that’s basically it. When you arrive at the garage, an attendant will check documents and then you’ll pay; there’ll be a short safety talk and then a walk around the karts. Then you’ll be off with a guide in a lead car, and another in a chase car to keep everyone together. I’m not sure this type of experience exists anywhere else in the world, so it’s truly an “Only In Japan” story you can tell your friends if you decide to take the plunge!

Souka Kinmei, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Michael Stigall editor

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