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Complaints against foreign go-kart drivers increase in Tokyo

56 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

During the pandemic, Japan closed its borders to international travel, which meant go-kart operators in Tokyo, who usually lead fleets of foreign visitors down public roads, found themselves without customers, leading one to start up a “Save the Street Kart” campaign to stay in business.

Now that the country has reopened its borders, tourists from abroad have returned in large numbers and the go-karts are back on the roads, but not everyone is happy about it. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the complaints made against go-karts on public roads in 2022 were close to none, but in 2023, the number of complaints soared to over 100. Many of the grievances were related to noise and traffic violations, with statements including: “people get out of their carts and take photos while waiting at traffic lights” and “they ignore traffic lights”.

Although no injuries were reported, there were 12 accidents involving rear-end collisions and 10 other violations, including parking fines. In February, the police department handed out written requests to go-kart operators asking them to strengthen safety measures.

In order to prevent accidents and reduce noise, the Organization for Safe Driving Support for Foreign Visitors to Japan, an industry group that includes go-kart operators, has set up driving routes that are away from residential areas and places frequented by children. To prevent the negative impact of photography on the flow of traffic, companies have established rules such as prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving.

However, while those who wish to drive the go-karts are required to hold an international driver’s license, most are foreign tourists from Europe and America, who are not only unfamiliar with Japanese roads and traffic signs, but are used to driving on the other side of the road.

This can lead to a host of problems for both go-kart drivers and the vehicles and people around them, as evidenced by two incidents that occurred in 2018, when one driver was involved in a hit-and-run collision in Akihabara and another mounted the pavement and crashed into a shop wall.

According to the industry organization, more people are getting involved in the go-kart business, and since the coronavirus pandemic the number of businesses that are no longer affiliated with the organization has increased. As a result, it has become difficult to maintain rules and regulations across the board, and they would like to provide information to non-member businesses and raise the standards of the industry as a whole.

With more than a dozen go-kart businesses in Tokyo, and the market size estimated to be worth 2-3 billion yen, the noisy lightweight vehicles won’t be disappearing from roads anytime soon.

Source: Jiji Press via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- MariCar Mario Kart driver mounts pavement, causes serious damage in Tokyo accident

-- Cosplaying go-kart driver strikes bicyclist in hit-and-run collision in Akihabara

-- Street Kart company famous for Super Mario karts ends crowdfunding campaign with dismal support

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

56 Comments
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Don't know why the Japanese police can't stop them. All it would take would be to arrest and detain a few who disobeyed traffic regulations and word would spread. They shouldn't be on public roads in the first place. It doesn't matter how lucrative a business it is.

22 ( +35 / -13 )

This is the kind of thing that they run features on on NHK that give all foreigners a bad name.

-10 ( +14 / -24 )

A serious accident just waiting to happen. And when it does, reform will likely occur — too late unfortunately.

25 ( +30 / -5 )

As an Aussie remember trying to drive on the right side of the road in the states once. Nightmare. Cruising around the streets of Tokyo in a go-cart totally unaccustomed to the Japanese roads has always seemed like a business they were lucky to get away with. Cash in or cash out? I’m not sure if I would lament seeing this one go. Either that or just make a track somewhere.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

It boggles my mind, in a country that is so full of rules and no no's, that this is even allowed. the owner must be a brother in law to the Mayor of Tokyo or something.

14 ( +28 / -14 )

Get them off the streets. Please!!

19 ( +24 / -5 )

Chubby Weebs in cringy suits

4 ( +14 / -10 )

These are the Japan nerds lovers that adore all the weird and not good things of Japan.

These are the same men-women children that in adulthood come here dressing for cosplay and like all these weird animations.

As a Westerner myself I feel ashamed for them.

Japan should simply close most of these go-kart companies giving problems to the locals.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

There's a lot of simping going on and not just in the slanted news article. It's a Japanese company in Japan selling go kart rides to tourists and that includes Japanese people as well as this is not a business exclusively for tourists.

Most of the customers are foreigners and guess what? The Japanese business is taking their money to promote dangerous practices. While it's too hard for some to grasp, just shut down this company from operating in urban areas especially traffic-pedestrian areas like Shibuya.

Problem fixed. Foreigners don't run the business, don't make the laws and regulations and aren't the police. They all need to grow up and start taking responsibility including the Japanese who make this happen.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

I mean they have barred far lesser things, it’s quiet amazing the authorities let this one slide

Like the foreign touts physically harassing people in certain zones, or pachinko and the DPRK remittance of funds or even scamming English teaching businesses there are certain businesses which are allowed to cause social disruption and exploitation because there are connections between criminal enterprises and business and political interests which are very profitable for a select few and must be protected.

Although no injuries were reported, there were 12 accidents involving rear-end collisions and 10 other violations, including parking fines. In February, the police department handed out written requests to go-kart operators asking them to strengthen safety measures.

Compared to the horrendous deaths caused by senior Japanese drivers in their nice cars it does not seem like much cause to panic.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Accidents happen everywhere, American's Canadians and many others drive on the opposite side so accidents will happen.

Either stop these carts or have a Japanese Licensed driver manage them, or just put up with it. Simple as that.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

This would be a great opportunity to revive some of those unused amusement parks from past decades (like Nara Dreamland) that went out of business as giants like USJ and Disney took their customers away. Turn them into racing tracks for go-karters. They'd be totally insulated from the public, and because they'd be on private land, there wouldn't even be a driver's license issue.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Target market : immature and ignorant foreigners. Some actually think they are immersing themselves in "Japanese culture" by driving these things around.

Get them off public roads, and onto tracks where they belong.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

It would take Japanese civil servants a couple of hours to draft a bill and the Diet politicos 5 minutes to ratify it.

Problem solved..,

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I often see Japanese drivers, cyclists and pedestrians doing much worse things than these go-karters. Give me a break.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

It would take Japanese civil servants a couple of hours to draft a bill and the Diet politicos 5 minutes to ratify it.

Problem solved..,

You're right in that this is a politician issue, not a police one. The karts are street legal, they are registered and insured as rental cars on rental car number plates, and the people renting them out know far more about international driving permits than the average dude in Okinawa with a few cars as a side hussle. To shut the karts down, it take new laws to make them street illegal.

However, despite reading the article, I do not see what the "problem" is. Yes they are noisy and a bit silly, but what everyone is scared of are potential accidents, not actual ones that have happened. A common complaint about Japan from tourists is "no nightlife". Thirty years ago, there were clubs and bars, the last train was later, and they'd pedestrianize Aoyama once a month. Several areas with shotengais and little yakitori joints etc have been bulldozed to make room for more tower blocks. If there is one thing Tokyo does not need, its more sanitizing and less fun. We've already lost Halloween.

As for Japan as a whole, it needs far more tourists renting cars, which will involve some people (shock horror) driving on the left not the right as they are used to. Without it, 80% of the country will see little or no benefit from inbound tourism.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I never understood the allure of doing this, even as a tourist. You want to pay to drive a gokart through Tokyo traffic right at eye level with the exhaust pipe of every vehicle around you? Pass.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Complaints against foreign go-kart drivers increase in Tokyo

If the companies are anything like the one's down here, the complaints should be against the JAPANESE go-kart companies and their escort drivers, who act like they literally own the roads, and are creating hazardous conditions themselves!

This is a problem that must be addressed by the JAPANESE who run these places, or if there are foreign owners, them too! Hold them responsible!

With more than a dozen go-kart businesses in Tokyo, and the market size estimated to be worth 2-3 billion yen, the noisy lightweight vehicles won’t be disappearing from roads anytime soon.

Who came up with this guesstimate?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I often see Japanese drivers, cyclists and pedestrians doing much worse things than these go-karters. Give me a break.

Exactly, this problem can be easily solved without taking something away that is fun for tourists and helps the economy. Just setup a few clear cut rules, and one of them should be for people that come from countries that drive in the opposite side of the road. Maybe implement a day course on the rules of the road with signed waiver promise to adhere to the rules of Japan, violate them, and you pay whatever the fine calls for, try to skip or bailout, your card gets charged for the full penalty amount. There are many ways to solve this problem without shutting down another activity that helps to stimulate the economy.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

100 omg end of the world. Pointless in a city of 20 million. 100 grumpy old men and women not wanting anyone to have fun.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Foreign "tourists" Go-Kart drivers.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It only takes one person to throw out a banana or shell onto the street for a serious accident to occur. Surprised no one has used their items throughout the years. lol

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Whenever I encounter people on those carts, I notice that between what looks like a mix of intense concentration, frustration, and boredom there's barely ever a hint of enjoyment amongst them. I believe that the novelty of being stared at while driving on exhaust pipe level on a foreign road in an oversized off-brand Super Plumber Siblings™ suit must have worn off even before they left the company's parking space.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

With more than a dozen go-kart businesses in Tokyo, and the market size estimated to be worth 2-3 billion yen, the noisy lightweight vehicles won’t be disappearing from roads anytime soon.

Who came up with this guesstimate?

at ¥17,500 a head for 2 hrs, I could see those numbers.

Can't lie, I've ridden Karts in Thailand (closed track) and it was a blast. I do get the appeal but I don't even want to drive a car around Tokyo.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

. To prevent the negative impact of photography on the flow of traffic, companies have established rules such as prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving.

Good luck with that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Foreign "tourists" Go-Kart drivers.

"Foreign "tourists" " not just Go kart drivers.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I can understand that they could be dangerous, seeing that if you are driving a larger car you probably barely notice them. There is probably a good reason why you are not allowed to drive them on normal roads in most countries.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

at ¥17,500 a head for 2 hrs, I could see those numbers.

Yeah right, after about 80,000 people riding them! Anyone could see those numbers if you wait long enough!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

They're an absolute menace and should be banned.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Going around in little toy-like carts while "cosplaying" a video game character?

Seems childish to me.

Between this, and adults' infatuations with things like superhero films and "Star Wars" and the like, modern society really does seem awfully infantilized.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

What a Bunch of party poopers you are. We have those little tiny scooters bombing in and out of traffic, and i don't see how this is any different. It's probably taxi drivers complaining about this. Do they REALLY ignore traffic lights? or do they nip through on a yellow light? And is this JUST FOREIGNHERS? No Japanese university students? Not a single Mr Suzuki, Mr Honda, or Toyota Mario fan? I think there just might be a slight, maybe just a tad bit of foreigner blaming going on here...Just a tad! Surely, there must be some Japanese Mario fans who, jump out of their kart and take a pic. Maybe if noise is a problem they can go electric? And only 100 complaints? And if noise is so bad, let's look at those kids on motorbikes. Everyone likes different things, and they are on holiday.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

BertieWoosterToday  07:10 am JST

Don't know why the Japanese police can't stop them. All it would take would be to arrest and detain a few who disobeyed traffic regulations and word would spread. They shouldn't be on public roads in the first place. It doesn't matter how lucrative a business it is.

This whole 'foreign tourists' troublesome feed into the already ingrained xenophiboia in Japan.

Why are you wanting to punish the foreign tourists? It's the Japanese organisers who are at fault.

I don't think we can blame the tourists here, as they are just paying and trusting the service providers that this is legal and acceptable. How are people who just got off a plane going to know anything about the controversy surrounding it?

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Pretty indulgent. I think only vehicles with plates can drive in most countries.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I don't understand how this is legal to begin with. I even got hit with a blue shell last year and the police did absolutely nothing about it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@abe 234

What do you mean by party poopers? You're kidding right! A moron on the mario kart almost hit my nephew at the Zebra crossing.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

enmaaiToday  01:44 pm JST

@abe 234

What do you mean by party poopers? You're kidding right! A moron on the mario kart almost hit my nephew at the Zebra crossing.

You are just as likely to be hit by a car at a zebra crossing in Japan since they rarely, if ever stop.

The kart was probably doing what the other drivers were doing. Complain to the police and the authorities for not enforcing zebra crsiing rules.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

You are just as likely to be hit by a car at a zebra crossing in Japan since they rarely, if ever stop.

The kart was probably doing what the other drivers were doing. Complain to the police and the authorities for not enforcing zebra crsiing rules.

At least the Jpolice can arrest that person and make that person pay for the hospital bills.

So you think kart drivers can mimick the Jdricers, these foreigners have no J drivers license, unless they have go for it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

enmaaiToday  01:55 pm JST

You are just as likely to be hit by a car at a zebra crossing in Japan since they rarely, if ever stop.

The kart was probably doing what the other drivers were doing. Complain to the police and the authorities for not enforcing zebra crsiing rules.

At least the Jpolice can arrest that person and make that person pay for the hospital bills.

So you think kart drivers can mimick the Jdricers, these foreigners have no J drivers license, unless they have go for it.

It's interesting to see the focus on the driving behaviour of international tourists when Japanese drivers frequently run red lights and ignore pedestrian crossings, not to mention that cyclists riding illegally on sidewalks also pose significant safety risks.

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

They are real nuisance.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

That's it's always been, for example J drivers not following the traffic rules in good ol USA what do you think the media and locals do?

THE SAME

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I've been living in Japan now for more than a decade and have YET to see a single foreigner get out of their cart to take pictures in the middle of the street. For the most part, they seem very respectful, wear their seatbelts and wave at people as they drive by. I even see Japanese people taking pics and videos of them in Shibuya all the time. This isn't a "foreigner problem", it's more like a nuisance kind of thing because I'm sure if only Japanese people were riding those carts, these same 100 people would be filing the exact same complaints against them. It just so happens that Japanese people don't really rent those carts as much as foreigners do so they can only complain about us for now. Again, it just seems like that "100 group of irritated people" are annoyed because they don't like seeing those things on the road. People just like to complain. *Side note; I like how JT used the words "soared to 100". Thanks, I haven't laughed like this in a while. Happy Monday, folks!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Do people in the US really complain about foreign tourists? Conervatives complain about immigrants a lot but that's a bit different.

Not american, don't care.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well, bosozoku get away with doing all the stuff in the article and they do a lot more than just that. I've only seen these go-karts a few times and what they were doing never affected me in the least so I don't particularly care.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

uaintseemeToday  03:03 pm JST

I've been living in Japan now for more than a decade and have YET to see a single foreigner get out of their cart to take pictures in the middle of the street. For the most part, they seem very respectful, wear their seatbelts and wave at people as they drive by. I even see Japanese people taking pics and videos of them in Shibuya all the time. This isn't a "foreigner problem", it's more like a nuisance kind of thing because I'm sure if only Japanese people were riding those carts, these same 100 people would be filing the exact same complaints against them. It just so happens that Japanese people don't really rent those carts as much as foreigners do so they can only complain about us for now. Again, it just seems like that "100 group of irritated people" are annoyed because they don't like seeing those things on the road. People just like to complain. *Side note; I like how JT used the words "soared to 100". Thanks, I haven't laughed like this in a while. Happy Monday, folks!

Yes, it's all a family theme for those who've been in Japan for a long time.

Foreigners don't understand Japan's culture and always get it wrong. They wear their shows in our buildings, they can't use chopsticks, they litter everywhere and damage temples and shrines; and they are noisy.

And now they are trouble in the streets with their gokarts. Sigh.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

What a Bunch of party poopers you are. We have those little tiny scooters bombing in and out of traffic, and i don't see how this is any different.

And by stating this I can tell that you have no idea of what driving here is actually like! Leastwise with the rice-rockets, you can actually SEE them when they are weaving in and out of traffic.

However, due to the low bodies on these go-karts, they are difficult to see in mirrors, and weaving in and out of traffic. You could literally roll over one, and never knew you hit it, until it was under your tires.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Maybe because of this comment!

Shadows of the Rising Sun

I don't think it's the same at all. The US is a multicultural melting pot, and you can easily go after foreign tourists when everyone is from somewhere else anyway.

Do people in the US really complain about foreign tourists? Conervatives complain about immigrants a lot but that's a bit different.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Yes, it's all a family theme for those who've been in Japan for a long time.

Foreigners don't understand Japan's culture and always get it wrong. They wear their shows in our buildings, they can't use chopsticks, they litter everywhere and damage temples and shrines; and they are noisy.

And now they are trouble in the streets with their gokarts. Sigh.

You mean the foreigners who rent said gokarts from "Japanese businesses"? If foreigners really presented that big of a problem, why not just close all go-kart businesses and be done with problem?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maybe because of this comment!

enmaaiToday  02:57 pm JST

That's it's always been, for example J drivers not following the traffic rules in good ol USA what do you think the media and locals do?

THE SAME

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

As a tourist in J land you don't have the luxury of behaving like the crazy locals.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

uaintseemeToday  03:57 pm JST

Yes, it's all a family theme for those who've been in Japan for a long time.

Foreigners don't understand Japan's culture and always get it wrong. They wear their shows in our buildings, they can't use chopsticks, they litter everywhere and damage temples and shrines; and they are noisy.

And now they are trouble in the streets with their gokarts. Sigh.

You mean the foreigners who rent said gokarts from "Japanese businesses"? If foreigners really presented that big of a problem, why not just close all go-kart businesses and be done with problem?

Yes, indeed. I was being sacristic, of course. After living in Japan for many years, I have found that we are essentially expected to perform better than the locals or every little 'mistake' gets amplified out of proportion.

'Yapari, gaijin-da'

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

> Shadows of the Rising SunToday  04:09 pm JST

uaintseemeToday  03:57 pm JST

Yes, it's all a family theme for those who've been in Japan for a long time.

Foreigners don't understand Japan's culture and always get it wrong. They wear their shows in our buildings, they can't use chopsticks, they litter everywhere and damage temples and shrines; and they are noisy.

And now they are trouble in the streets with their gokarts. Sigh.

You mean the foreigners who rent said gokarts from "Japanese businesses"? If foreigners really presented that big of a problem, why not just close all go-kart businesses and be done with problem?

Yes, indeed. I was being sacristic, of course. After living in Japan for many years, I have found that we are essentially expected to perform better than the locals or every little 'mistake' gets amplified out of proportion.

'Yapari, gaijin-da'

-4( +0 / -4 )

LOL It seems other gaijin do not agree!

The downvoters have spoken

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

After living in Japan for many years, I have found that we are essentially expected to perform better than the locals or every little 'mistake' gets amplified out of proportion.

Living in Japan for many years now, I do share neither your observations nor your illusion of victimhood.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

/dev/randomToday  05:21 pm JST

After living in Japan for many years, I have found that we are essentially expected to perform better than the locals or every little 'mistake' gets amplified out of proportion.

Living in Japan for many years now, I do share neither your observations nor your illusion of victimhood.

There was no need for the abrasive tone.

I never claimed to feel like a victim.

My comment was simply about the pressures that can be placed on foreigners living in Japan.

If that's not your experience, well, good for you.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

So many haters. Give it a try. It really is a hoot. And dangerous AF.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have found that we are essentially expected to perform better than the locals or every little 'mistake' gets amplified out of proportion.

Wow, what an amazing insight! FYI, you have things turned around here. No one "expects" anything from you, you put those expectations on yourself! Look in the mirror and you will see who you need to blame for your problems with understanding things here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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