When I saw those three words “ Kart”, Akihabara, Mario”, on a message I received, my brain muzzled any hope of thinking further before bursting into excitement yelling “Holly Crap!” which led me to pass out in glee… or wait was it an overload of Japanese Sake.
Anyway, after having spent a month thinking about that day, I finally jumped out of the train in Akiba before joining the crew. Good weather, not too much wind, the asphalt was in perfect condition, crap load of tourist everywhere fully equipped with all kinds of cameras, all signs saying that today is going to be a great day!
Who did this? Who had the geniusness to set up this event ? Well, the organization that aims to make you comfortable in Tokyo, Welcome Tokyo, of course.
Besides being crazy jealous of me, you might be wondering what type of awesome man-god set up this splendid event? Well let me tell you, it was the great people of Welcome Tokyo, the organization that aims to make your life in Tokyo as comfortable as it can be.
Welcome Tokyo intentions are to organize events linked with Japanese traditional culture, and modern culture for both Japanese and Foreigners by helping people exchange cultural experiences in a fun and natural way.
First step: Costumes! I found the perfect peach’s costume with a wig, and even the perfect crown that fits me really well. I already feel sexier than a bearded lady, when I see a Japanese girl looking at my marvelous pink dress with envy but was too shy to say something… I can tell that she wants my costume. Hey, I’m a tall foreigner dressed like a small pink princess… its kind of hard to explain. Well, screw my dream, I gave the dress to her and changed into the brilliant Matobo! (Mario-Bowser-Toad).
After checking out my kart, I go through the explanations of the commands, and then I finally sat in it. There are bananas on one side and a huge spiky shell on my back to prevent any attacks from those pesky red shells. Everything is a go and I’m ready to race!
My first thought was, there were a lot of people stopping to take pictures, even before we started to drive, Foreigners, Young, Old, Salarymen, and mothers with children. It was so cool to be able to put smiles on so many people’s faces just by waving my hand and letting them take a picture of me, and my ride.
My second thought was, the traffic is very fluid in Tokyo, in Akiba too, and in a kart you sit very close to the ground, so you don’t really need to go super fast to feel that you are going fast. Still, if you can find some lanes with no cars, about a 200m long stretch of road, here you could maximum pleasure, by increasing your speed, overtaking the other karts, screaming your powerfulness to the world while shaking your fist in the air. Then we would stop at red lights and line up with other cars on the road to have more pictures taken from the people crossing the streets.
Maybe it was due to it being such a long time since I have driven (it was in France), but I forgot all the safety checks and anything that was supposed to prevent me from killing myself or others. Once again, I have to give thanks to the fluid traffic in Akihabara and the Japanese people being the most careful drivers in the world.
I really felt like I was in a Super Mario Kart, just racing for your life. I hit the gas and speed forward checking for moles, dodging the bananas, and throwing my red shell at Peach to knock her out of the track!
My third thought was, I love the wind; not in my hair because of my mushroom hat, but just because I really like driving a Kart in an urban environment, dodging random obstacles, seeing Akiba, and other weirdo’s with costumes.
After driving for one hour, more or less, to be honest I did not really check the time, I was too excited, and unfortunately we went back to the Koopa garage and back to the real and rough life.
Well not really rough… actually we went back and had an “Okonomiyaki” Party and a Nomikai (the cute name of a drinking party…).
Conclusion: Awesomely fun! Gimme another mushroom and let go to the next race!
About Welcome Tokyo
Welcome Tokyo was started in February 2014 by Kentaroh with the mission to provide opportunities for foreigners to know the real Japanese culture, and for Japanese to discover and have experiences with foreigners and each share experiences with each other through fun activities. Now this organization has around 10 staff and gathers between 300 to 400 people each month!
In the beginning, it was hard to reach out to the foreign community and give them information about events, but now our events have a well-balanced mix of foreigners and Japanese. The key of their success is always introducing new and amazing activities, from the very traditional activities such as Japanese paper making, calligraphy, week-end trips to Onsens (hot springs), to the more modern activities such as swimming with dolphins or having BBQs at the beach.
Thanks to Welcome Tokyo, foreigners are able to visit less touristic places and add more authenticity to their adventure in Japan, thus creating a genuine experience beyond the usual clichés. At the same time this allows the local people to meet foreigners and to keep them practicing their art or traditional activities, and sharing their knowledge with people.
Welcome Tokyo is always seeking new friends and partners.
For any further information:
Hi there! I’m the perfect reporter for you all since I can’t really speak or write Japanese like most of you. I’m extremely frank, I love the weird stuff, I love tatami-style drinking, I love to inject food in my veins, I love to sit, shut up and contemplate. And if I can beat you up in video games, I will! I’m also a geek, or at least I used to be before everyone became one. Damn hipsters.