This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
In Tokyo, you can rent a go-kart, don a Mario onesie and drive around the streets of the city on a cosplay-style sightseeing tour. For tourists, the activity is peddled as a “Once in a lifetime experience”; but for local authorities it’s turned into a recurring headache. Participants are legally permitted to drive on designated public roads at up to 60 kilometres an hour, without having to wear seat belts or helmets. Last year, National Police Agency data revealed that the activity had caused 50 accidents on Tokyo streets over the course of 11 months. And earlier this week, a rented go-kart was spotted travelling down a restricted highway and over Tokyo Bay’s Rainbow Bridge before disappearing into the night.
A staff member at a Shuto Expressway toll gate in Odaiba, an artificial island in the middle of Tokyo Bay, noticed the kart racing down the highway and notified police just after 9pm on Sunday, TBS News reported. The Metropolitan Police Department dispatched a patrol car to chase down the kart, but failed to locate it by the time they arrived. Authorities are now analysing security footage in an attempt to identify the vehicle, while reminding users and hire companies to not enter the expressway with the karts.
Video footage posted to social media shows the runaway buggy driving in the far left lane of traffic as it crosses the Rainbow Bridge. Tokyo Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into the matter, and are still on the lookout for the driver.
Nintendo filed and won a lawsuit against one of Japan’s more popular hire kart companies MariCar last year, forcing them to pay 10 million yen (about $127,000 AUD) in compensation. The gaming company claimed that not only did MariCar’s use of Nintendo-related costumes constitute copyright infringement, but the company was also damaging the Mario Kart franchise because of multiple accidents that had taken place. One such incident happened in May last year, Tech Times reported, when a tourist made a wrong turn and drove the kart over a sidewalk into a street sign. Just months earlier, another incident with a hire kart company saw a 35-year-old Taiwanese man being arrested on suspicion of negligence resulting in injury, after he hit an 18-year-old male cyclist and drove away.