We've all seen the pictures. Hugh Jackman got a huge kick out of it. Groups of people dressed up as various Super Mario characters, zipping around the streets of Tokyo in go-karts recreating a scene straight out of Mario Kart. We're delighted every time we see it, but Tokyo residents aren't so amused, apparently. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the touring company MariCar is now facing the wrath of Nintendo and locals.
"A new business here takes advantage of Mario Kart’s popularity and loose regulations on go-karts to offer self-driving tours of Tokyo and other cities," the article recounts, "with costumes of characters from the game provided. The company, MariCar, says it books thousands of trips a month and most of the customers are non-Japanese.
"It’s part of a tourism boom that is changing the face of the world’s third-largest economy. Many businesses are selling a slice of what foreigners perceive as authentically Japanese. But while visitors are enjoying thrill rides in city streets, plucking off cherry-blossom branches for souvenirs and taking selfies in rented polyester kimonos, some locals are not amused."
The article goes on to remind readers that MariCar and Nintendo are currently butting heads in a legal battle which will decide whether MariCar is illegally using the likeness of Nintendo's characters and leaning on its properties for profit. It seems pretty clear to us that this is exactly what's happening, so we'd be surprised if MariCar will be operating its business the same way by this time next year. If you haven't already booked a trip for yourself to take a self-guided Mario Kart tour of Tokyo, you may never get that chance.
I get it. I understand. I live in Nashville, which has become a booming tourist destination over the past few years. The city that I grew up in has been overrun by beer bikes, party buses, and bachelorette parties. Getting around downtown can be a hellish nightmare if you happen to get stuck one of those pedal taverns, and while we're all nice to your face, we really just wish you'd all go home. I feel you, Tokyo.