The Mariko Aoki phenomenon (青木まりこ現象 , Aoki Mariko genshō) is a Japanese expression referring to an urge to defecate that is suddenly felt after entering bookstores. The phenomenon's name derives from the name of the woman who mentioned the phenomenon in a magazine article in 1985. According to Japanese social psychologist Shozo Shibuya, the specific causes that trigger a defecation urge in bookstores are not yet clearly understood (as of 2014). There are also some[who? ] who are skeptical about whether such a peculiar phenomenon really exists at all, and it is sometimes discussed as one type of urban myth.
The series of processes through which being in a bookstore leads to an awareness of a defecation urge is something that cannot be explained from a medical perspective as a single pathological concept, at least at present. According to a number of discussions on the topic, even if it can be sufficiently found that this phenomenon actually exists, it is a concept that would be difficult to be deemed a specific pathological entity (such as a "Mariko Aoki disease", for example). On the other hand, it is also a fact[citation needed ] that a considerable number of the intellectuals (particularly clinicians) who discuss this phenomenon have adopted existing medical terminology such as from diagnostics and pathology. Borrowing from this approach, this article also uses expressions from existing medical terminology for convenience.
The term receives its name from Mariko Aoki, an otherwise little-known Japanese woman who contributed an essay in 1985 to the magazine Hon no Zasshi [ja] (which means "Book Magazine").:55 In that essay, she related how she came to the realization that for some years, walking around a bookstore inevitably made her want to go to the restroom. The editors of the magazine received reports of other readers who had similar experiences, and named it the "Mariko Aoki phenomenon".:2–15