Life Lesson #55 – Real Mario Kart Exists

Incomprehensible neon lights whizz past as I speed through the crowded streets of Tokyo, narrowly avoiding obstacles. A gust of wind tugs at the edge of my mustache. I briefly take my hand off the steering wheel to save my mustache from becoming roadkill. That’s all it takes for my brother, Mario, to overtake me from behind, leaving me in the sake-scented dust just as we speed onto the famous rainbow bridge, adrenaline flooding our veins as we reach breakneck speeds.

The catch is: we’re not playing a video game. This is real life.

Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge (photo by Anek Suwannaphoom)

It’s our first morning in Tokyo, and we’ve been looking forward to this for months. We’ve each had to obtain International Driving Permits in advance – a small price to pay for the opportunity to make our favourite childhood pastime a reality.

We kill some time exploring the area around the Imperial Palace before our adventure.

Street Kart Tour has several sites around Tokyo. We choose Shinagawa because its three-hour loop covers not only the epic Rainbow bridge, but Tokyo Tower and Shibuya too (the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing).

After a quick safety briefing, we’re soon zooming around the real streets of Japan’s capital city.

Our expert guides know exactly how long they can take to snap group photos at the traffic lights.

After about an hour, we park in a strange basement, then go up a tall tower.

We couldn’t resist the elegant photo op.

Watching the umbrellas converge at Shibuya, I felt less like a cartoon character and more like an ant.

Three hours passes remarkably quickly, but it was the perfect length of time, and by far our favorite adventure in the city of Tokyo.

Free from our vehicular contraints, we spend the rest of the evening exploring the tiny bars in Tokyo’s fantastical alleyways, starting with Nonbei Yokocho.

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