VIDEO game characters came to life recently in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, as drivers wearing costumes in small go-karts buzzed through a traffic intersection, prompting surprised passers-by to wave and reach for their cameras.
These go-karts can be rented from Akiba Cart in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, which was founded in April 2013 by Daisaku Koyama to allow people an outlet to escape from the strains of everyday life.
The go-karts, measuring 2m long and 70cm wide, are classified as microcars under the Road Traffic Law in Japan.
People can drive the vehicles on public roads with regular driver's licences.
Images of people driving go-karts on Tokyo streets have spread through online video sites and social network services.
The activity is also popular among foreign tourists, given that travelling on public roads in go-karts is banned in many other countries.
With 15 go-karts, the company accepts reservations from up to about 10 people at one time, with prices ranging from 2,700 yen (S$34) per hour to 10,800 yen for a whole day.
Customers can also pay for guided tours of specific routes or sightseeing spots.
Go-kart drivers can enjoy the view from a low angle - as if they are sitting on the road - as well as enjoy a sense of openness, with no roof or doors.
Some drivers dress as their favourite animated characters to drive through the streets.
One of them is Tokyo resident Ryota Kuzumoto, who donned a costume of a popular game character while driving with his colleagues.
"I find it refreshing to see things from a new perspective, which is different from riding a bus or other kinds of transportation," he said.