What Is The Meaning Of SANPAKU Eyes?

Have you heard about the concept of sanpaku eyes and wondered what is the meaning of sanpaku eyes?

Sanpaku eyes, a term that intrigues with its mystique, refer to a particular eye condition where the sclera is visible beneath or above the iris.

Rooted in Japanese folklore, the concept of sanpaku is shrouded in superstition and speculation, often linked to one’s fate and well-being in cultural lore.

Meaning Of Sanpaku Eyes:

Sanpaku (三白) or  Sanpaku gan (三白眼) is taken from  Japanese which literally translates into “three whites.” It is used to describe the eyes with a white portion visible either below or above the  colored portion. 

  shop from japan  

For such people, the white part is visible above or below the iris. Generally, it is quite normal to see the sclera or the whites of someone’s eyes, on either side of the colored portion, or the iris. The same phenomenon can be seen in Korea which is called ‘Sambaegan eyes.’

The famous Japanese Macrobiotic theorist George Ohsawa published a book, ‘You are all Sanpaku’ in 1965 where he describes this condition in detail saying it is a sign of nature and warning that a person’s life is threatened by an early and tragic end. 

Oshawa also pointed out this condition in well known personalities from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King. According to him, this condition could be solved by adopting a macrobiotic diet. The sclera which is visible above or below the eye is a sign of imbalance in the body. 

He writes about how for thousands of years people of the Far East looked into each other’s eyes to detect any signs of this condition. 

If found, it meant that an entire man’s system-physiological,spiritual and physical was out of balance. He was unhappy, sick and insane because he committed against the order of the universe and was referred to as ‘accident prone’ by the West.

Types Of Sanpaku Eyes:

Yin and Yang are both terms that are often meant to represent two opposite sides of the same concept, binary or item. When referring to the kind of sanpaku eyes, it refers to where the three whites are visible. 

Yin Sanpaku Eyes

Eyes with white showing below the iris which is commonly found in alcoholics and drug addicts. It is believed that those  with yin sanpaku eyes are likely to place themselves in very dangerous situations, and may not survive the danger. 

See also  31 Japanese Names Meaning Brave

To name a few well-known celebrities who had this condition were John F Kennedy, Princess Diana, John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Micheal Jacknson, Indira Gandhi and Audrey Hepburn.

Meaning of SANPAKU Eyes

According to practitioners of various types of East Asian traditional medicine,  the presence of yin sanpaku eyes indicates that the person has an illness or mental issue  that has thrown the body out of balance. 

Yang Sanpaku Eyes

Eyes with white showing above the iris is more evident and for such people the danger they may face comes from within. People with yang sanpaku eyes tend to be violent, filled with rage and are  likely to be psychopaths. 

One example would be Charles Manson who is an American criminal with a sect called the Manson family. His followers also committed many murders under his leadership.

Yang sanpaku eyes are rarer than yin sanpaku eyes, and found in people who could be dangerous and may behave erratically. 

Sanpaku Eyes-Superstitious Eyes?

In Japan, Sanpaku eyes can be seen in your favorite anime characters, and manga. Having such eyes is considered both charming and cute for men and women.There are even doctors in Japan who perform surgery to give people these eyes. It is believed that there are certain personality traits associated with Sanpaku eyes. 

Individuals tend to be more well focused, have a deep connection with spirituality, able to position themselves in difficult situations,  have a calmer personality, care about their appearance and have a strong attitude.

A long time ago, Sanpaku eyes were a negative visual characteristic in Japan as criminals were once marked with these eyes to denote their crimes. In Edo-era Japanese art, it was painted on the brows of criminals.  

See also  How Japanese Celebrate Christmas? | 7 Ways Christmas in Japan Is Celebrated

More researchers are discovering that these unique eyes are an essential feature for judging personality perception as they give off impressions of emotions and sexual characteristics. 

Certain types of  Sanpaku eyes are associated with good and evil characteristics or personalities.

But according to superstitious people, if you have this white above your iris, that means that you are possibly a threat or danger to the outside world and unable to control your emotions. 

But, if you have white below your iris, the outside world could be a danger to you. Even though a Japanese writer helped popularize the notion of these superstitious eyes in the West, it isn’t really considered to be much of a superstition in Japan. 

If you do happen to have sanpaku eyes, just take a breath. As already mentioned before, these eyes are considered cute and are very popular so it is advised not to take any of these superstitions to heart.

What Are The Causes For Sanpaku Eyes?

There are many numerous reasons why an individual’s eye shape may appear a certain way. Your eyes may differ from one angle or picture or moment to the next. 

Although Princess Diana’s eyes look balanced out entirely in her photos, the white of her eyes are visible if she tilts her face down. 

So you see the skin around a person’s eyes may change over time due to a number of factors like age, loss of elasticity that causes drooping and highlighting the sclera. 

The shape of an eye can get distorted and lead the eyelids to be pulled in such a way to make different parts of the eye more visible as a result of cosmetic surgery.

Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism can make the sclera more prominent too. According to Dr Lim who is the medical director of the Natasha Lim eye center, disorders such as chronic inflammation can also affect the color of the iris.

Whether or not the above notions are true, each eye has their own story to tell and it is upto each person to decide whether to believe the traditions and theories. Are you more intrigued and eager to know if you have sanpaku eyes?

See also  Are Japanese People Happy?

Meaning Of Sanpaku Eyes: FAQs

How are normal eyes different from  Sanpaku eyes ?

You will be able to identify someone with sanpaku eyes because the sclera is visible, and the white portion of their eyes. They appear more distant and do not have a crease. You will see these eyes in an anime or read a manga. Many describe them as having ‘squinted eyes.’

Are Sanpaku eyes associated with any health threats?

According to research, the appearance of Sanpaku eyes has been seen in many people who suffer from health conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, diabetes,anorexia, and other illnesses that cause malnourishment.

What are four white eyes?

Eyes where all the white around the black eyes is visible and is common with people having large eyes.

Is Sanpaku a rare condition?

It is estimated that 1 in every 40 people may have sanpaku eyes and such eyes are not very common but are not rare either.

What is the sanpaku eye curse theory on Tiktok?

A TikTok user shared her  theory about a sanpaku eye curse which became viral. She detailed that celebrities such as Princess Diana,Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe, had yin sanpaku eyes and as a result they all died young. The superstition suggests that if you have yin sanpaku eyes, you are more likely to experience external dangers and if you have yang sanpaku eyes you are more likely to experience dangers from within.


Now after reading this article, you may feel the need to run in front of a mirror to check out your eyes too. Even if you find out you do have Sanpaku eyes, do not worry.

It is just a superstition and there aren’t any scientific findings about the good and bad things that happen to those with such eyes. 

Even in Japan today,those with Sanpaku eyes are considered pretty  cute or Kawaii(可愛い). Remember not to give any importance to these superstitions and regard it as a  special characteristic that helps enhance your beauty and appearance.

Also Read

What do you think?



What Is Kira Kira Names?