Rates are 4 to 5 times higher, but reservations are flooding in… Are “flashy modified rental cars” similar to “Maricar” safe to drive on public roads? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Rates are 4 to 5 times higher, but reservations are flooding in… Are “flashy modified rental cars” similar to “Maricar” safe to drive on public roads?

It is very popular among foreign tourists. ......

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
On that day, foreign customers from various countries, including South Korea and Costa Rica, were using the service. The store also has stuffed animals and other costumes that can be worn and driven around in.

Dulu …… Dulu …….

A group of people reminiscent of the popular game “Mario Kart” appeared in the middle of Akihabara, Tokyo, with their engines roaring. Drivers in outlandish costumes smiled and posed for passersby who pointed their smartphones at them. When the traffic light changed, they dashed off.

A scene often seen in downtown Tokyo a few years ago is making a comeback. The trigger was the easing of entry regulations for foreign visitors to Japan in October of last year.

The number of foreigners visiting Japan recovered to just under 1.5 million in January of this year. Compared to January ’19 before the Corona, the number has returned to a level of about 56%. In line with this, the number of inbound services is increasing rapidly. One of the most popular services among foreign tourists is a rental car service that allows them to drive around the city center in flashy cars,” said a writer for an automobile magazine.

Akiba Kart,” which provides the service mentioned at the beginning of this article, began renting public road karts for the first time in Japan in 2012. Although the number of customers was sparse during the COVID-19 crisis, the service is now booked up every day. The fee is 5,500 yen per hour. As a safety measure, the carts are offered in the form of a tour, with an employee leading the tour around Akihabara. One foreign tourist who used the service said, “I had an experience that I would never have had in a normal car,

It was a great experience, something you can’t get in a regular car,” said a foreign tourist who used the service! The towering buildings, the glamorous neon lights, and the many people passing by in the hustle and bustle of the city. …… Everything was fresh and new.

He said excitedly.

Some new companies have joined the market since December of last year. ICHIOKU TOURS” spent 2 million yen on a first-generation model of the popular sports car “Roadster” and remodeled it in a flamboyant manner. The tour takes passengers with a guide driver to tourist attractions such as the Daikoku parking lot, which is famous overseas as a “car lover’s mecca,” and the Rainbow Bridge. Although the fee is 16,800 yen for an hour and a half tour, which is four to five times the normal rental car market price because of the tour, reservations are flooding in, according to the company.

On the other hand, there are those who point out the dangers. Carts are extremely low in height and are often overlooked by cars driving alongside them. Roadsters have colored headlights, which violate the Road Trucking Vehicle Law, which requires them to be white. Is it safe to drive these vehicles on public roads? Automotive journalist Kumiko Kato answers.

Karts are classified as minicars under the Road Trucking Vehicle Law and are treated as motorized bicycles. Therefore, there are no regulations regarding vehicle height. Also, the headlights of the Roadster are basically colored, but they can be switched to white at the touch of a button. I think this is a somewhat gray area that is in violation of the law.

Mr. Kato also points out another concern.

Because they drive in formation, it is undeniable that they get in the way of ordinary vehicles. In addition, there are cases of aggressive interruptions in order to maintain the formation. Drivers must be careful not to drive dangerously.

Speaking of troubles with similar services, it is still fresh in our minds that in ’17 Nintendo filed a lawsuit against a car rental company in Shinagawa Ward. In addition to the unauthorized use of Mario and other cosplayers, the use of carts also drew attention. I hope this boom does not lead to a serious accident. ……

Anyone with a regular driver’s license can use them. There is no obligation to wear a helmet.
Roadsters lined up in a row at the Daikoku parking lot. The cars are painted in vivid colors such as red, green, and blue.
The cars drive along the Rainbow Bridge in a vertical line. Tours often start around 5:30 p.m. to enjoy the sunset and night views.
Store installations are lined with gleaming streets and modified cars; Google reviews are perfect. Users have given it positive reviews.

From the March 31 and April 7, 2023 issues of FRIDAY


Photo Gallery5 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles