They’re the scourge of Tokyo’s streets: bright-red go-karts, driven by foreign tourists waving and clad in cartoon costumes.

The providers of these personal transporters, colloquially known as "Mario Karts," once dressed riders as characters from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. before putting them on the roads. Now, after a company lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court, some websites warn that their street karts are "in no way a reflection” of the video-game maker.

But the damnable menace continues. Like cockroaches in a nuclear apocalypse, seemingly nothing can destroy them: not legal action, not the Transport Ministry, not even the pandemic, which kept tourists outside Japan’s shores for the better part of three years and forced one karting company into a failed crowdfunding campaign. As soon as foreign visitors roared back, so too did the karts, up and down Shibuya’s Dogenzaka thoroughfare or past Tokyo Tower.