Game On, As Mario Kart Characters Zoom Along Streets Of Sapporo

Game on, as Mario Kart characters zoom along streets of SapporoVideo game history roars to life as a cluster of real-life Mario Kart drivers race along an open road in the Susukino entertainment district to the delight of passers-by.

Seven drivers zip along the course one after another, albeit in a safe manner unlike in the game, each dressed as characters from the popular Nintendo series, such as Mario Brothers and Princess Peach.

When they pull over, a crowd of onlookers, including foreign tourists, swarm them to capture the curious scene, requesting pictures and handshakes.

The Real Mario Kart project, a head-turner on the streets of Sapporo, is spearheaded by 39-year-old Yoshimi Hori, who runs a model kit store in the city's Kita Ward.

"I started this for fun, but I never imagined it would draw this much attention," Hori said. "I'm delighted if we are playing a role in revitalizing Sapporo."

Hori came up with the idea three years ago when he learned on a TV show of a person who drove a kart in another town wearing a Mario costume. He purchased a model from the first vendor of the Taiwanese X-Kart vehicles in the city, which can legally run on public roads.

Clad in a Mario costume that he made himself, Hori embarked on a drive toward the city center.

The incident soon went viral on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet, inspiring several copycats.

Masami Kawauchi, a resident of the city's Higashi Ward, became interested in Hori's activities after learning about him through a TV program last year.

The 60-year-old said he now shares two karts with his wife and two sons and that they often ride around in Mario, Luigi and Bowser costumes.

As Kawauchi has always loved vehicles, his dream was to ride a motorbike across Japan during his golden years.