Mariko Aoki phenomenon: TikTok revives incredible Japanese urban legend about pooping in bookshops
It turns out the feeling is more common than you might think
It’s a topic no one wanted to talk about until this week - the bizarre link between shopping and needing a poo. Incredibly, the crude event is known as the Mariko Aoki phenomenon and those affected have found solace in a TikTok community.
The Mariko Aoki phenomenon is a Japanese urban legend detailing a woman who recounted feeling the urge to go to the toilet every time she entered a bookshop. But it turns out the feeling is more common than you might think, with some even coining the term ‘book bowels’ to describe it.
Popular US TikTok user, Adam Conover, put together a viral video recounting his life-long experience with the phenomenon. He said: “For my entire life. Every time I have stepped into a Barnes & Noble or other large bookstore, I have immediately had to poop.”
Viewers flocked to the comment section to relate to the Tik-Toker, with one admitting: “That’s me with Target.” While another user added: I HAVE SAID THIS FOR YEARS! EVERYONE ALWAYS SAID I WAS NUTS!”
A third user even theorised: “I feel it’s a connection to our childhood routines. Having books read to us around the age that we’re being trained to use the bathroom.”
While the sensation hasn’t been medically or scientifically proven, experts have weighed into the conversation. Dr. Sameer Islam wrote in Men’s Health, calling the phenomenon ‘a purely psychological problem’.
“There’s a real connection between the gut and the brain—it’s called the gut-brain axis. What we feel mentally will affect our bowels,” he added.
“The intensity of the information that you encounter in museums and libraries— or the sudden quiet of a garden — can trigger an autonomic response in your gut.”