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Nintendo wins battle against Tokyo’s Mario-inspired go-kart tourist attraction

MariCar Tokyo - The craziest way to see Tokyo

The chance to go-kart through the streets of Tokyo dressed as a Super Mario character has for many years been a popular experience for tourists visiting Japan.

But despite the similarities with Nintendo’s famous characters, the Japanese gaming giant has nothing to do with the attraction. Known for keenly protecting its intellectual property, Nintendo took MariCar — the operator of the service — to court over copyright violations, and the court just ruled in Nintendo’s favor.

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday, September 28, ordered MariCar, which operates the attraction, to stop renting out Nintendo-themed costumes to riders, and to pay damages to the Japanese gaming giant. Nintendo is seeking 10 million yen in damages, equal to almost $90,000, though the actual amount MariCar will have to pay is yet to be confirmed.

The ruling looks like it could bring an end to the go-kart rides, unless MariCar completely overhauls its branding, that is.


In a translated statement issued after the ruling, Nintendo said: “In order to protect our valued intellectual property, which we have built up over many years of effort, we will continue to take necessary measures.”

MariCar said it will take a closer look at the ruling before offering a comment.

At the time of writing, the MariCar website is still live, offering tourists the chance to “take on a street go-kart thru Tokyo!” The company states on its homepage that “MariCar is in no way a reflection of the game ‘Mario Kart,'” though in customer reviews further down the page someone writes about being “dressed up in Mario on the go-kart.”

Prices for the rides start at 9,000 yen and top out at 15,000 yen, depending on the route. Lasting up to three hours, the experience is offered from eight different shops across Tokyo, as well as in other cities such as Osaka and Kyoto.

While the ride is highly rated among those who have tried it, it can prove tricky for inexperienced drivers or first-time visitors who are unfamiliar with Japanese road rules. Occasional accidents have been reported over the years. with one earlier this year involving a Singaporean woman in a five-car fleet who lost control of her go-kart before mounting the sidewalk and crashing into a store front. No one was seriously hurt.

Those who want to experience the ride had better hurry, or wait to see if MariCar keeps its service on the road via some hasty rebranding.

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