What Are Sanpaku Eyes? How To Tell If You Have Them — And Can They Predict Your Future?

Photo: YouTube
Princess Diana

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul.

But what if different parts of the eye were windows to a person's fate?

That's what some people who follow Asian face reading tradition say sanpaku eyes are.

Sanpaku, which means roughly "three whites," refers to when you can see the white part of the eye either above or below the colored portion of the eye.

Usually, you can only see the whites of someone's eyes — also knowns as the sclera — on either side of the colored iris. However, some people have white visible above or below as well. 

What are sanpaku eyes?

Various famous people have sanpuka eyes. Princess Diana famously had eyes that showed her sclera below the beautiful blue of her irises. Billie Eilish has the same appearance. Charles Manson showed the white of his eyes above the iris. 

According to Asian face reading traditions, sanpaku eyes give a hint into the fate of the person in question. But the different eye shapes can mean different things.

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Basically, sanpaku means there is more white showing around the iris of the eye than is typical.

In most people, the colored portion of the eye is balanced in the middle with little to no white showing above or below it.

All the white is visible on either side. In some people, however, the iris sits a bit higher or a bit lower and makes the white, or sclera, visible on the top or bottom of the eye.

Macrobiotic theorist George Ohsawa wrote a book called You Are All Sanpuka in which he described the condition:

"For thousands of years, people of the Far East have been looking into each other's eyes for signs of this dreaded condition. Any sign of sanpaku meant that a man's entire system — physical, physiological and spiritual — was out of balance.

He had committed sins against the order of the universe and he was therefore sick, unhappy, insane, what the West has come to call 'accident prone'. The condition of sanpaku is a warning, a sign from nature, that one's life is threatened by an early and tragic end."

Ohsawa also wrote that sanpaku conditions could be solved by adhering to the macrobiotic diet he promoted. 

What does it mean to have sanpaku eyes with sclera visible below the iris?

According to Ohsawa, sclera visible below the eye is a sign of imbalance in the body. The condition is called "yin sanpaku" and is allegedly common in alcoholics and drug addicts.

It is thought that people with yin sanpaku will place themselves in dangerous situations but may not survive the danger. 

What about sanpaku with sclera showing above the iris?

When the white of the eye shows above the iris, it's "yang sanpaku" and the danger to the person comes from within.

People with eyes like this are said to be violent and filled with rage. 

Some famous people who have died early had sanpaku eyes.

There have been numerous famous people who have had had sanpaku eyes. One famous example is Princess Diana, who was often photographed with the lower white of her eyes clearly visible.

She even fits the definition of yin sanpaku, when you consider that she had an eating disorder and was in a desperately dysfunctional marriage that harmed her emotional health.

Later, she was chased to death by paparazzi, giving credence to the idea that she was living a life at risk. 

JFK also had yin sanpaku eyes, and Ohsawa actually claims to have predicted his death in 1963.

It is certainly true that Kennedy was often in danger, even before his assassination; he was a hero during World War II and saved members of his Navy unit after his ship was attacked by a Japanese destroyer. 

He also suffered from Addison's disease, an endocrine disorder marked by insufficient adrenal gland function. After his death, it was revealed that he also had hypothyroidism. Ill health is said to be one of the hallmarks of having sanpaku eyes like his. 

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Is there anyone with the other kind of sanpaku eyes?

A notable example of the yang sanpaku, or a person with the tops of the whites of their eyes showing, is Charles Manson.

The late murderous cult leader had wild eyes where the whites could be clearly seen above his irises.

He was definitely a danger to others and filled with rage and violent tendencies. He spent most of his life in prison for violent crimes, even before he formed the Manson family and sent his followers out to kill multiple people in 1967. 

Could there be other causes for sanpaku eyes?

Obviously, there are all kinds of non-sanpaku reasons that a person's eye shape might look a certain way.

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And, in fact, a person's eyes can look different from one moment to the next. Princess Diana's eyes look entirely balanced in many photos, while the white of her eyes are more visible if her face is tilted down.

That's just simple anatomy. Even Manson's eyes look totally normal in some photos. 

The shape of the skin around someone's eye might change due to age and loss of elasticity, causing dropping that makes the sclera more obvious.

Also, the shape of the eye can actually be distorted from cosmetic surgery, leading to the eyelids being pulled in such a way as to make different parts of the eye more visible.

Grave's disease or hyperthyroidism can cause eye-bulging that makes the sclera seem more prominent. 

Sanpuka eyes? Or a teenager rolling her eyes at the world?

My dog seems to have sanpaku eyes — what does that mean? 

Pictures of yin sanpaku eyes looked awfully familiar to me and I realized that the tilted-up look of eyes with whites showing at the bottom reminded me of the face my dog makes when she's begging for treats.

If you're worried that it might mean your furry friend is at risk for being assassinated like JFK, you can relax.

Scientists discovered that eyebrow and eye movements of dogs are just an evolutionary tactic to get people to like them more.

A study showed that dogs who have a strong "puppy dog eyes" game are more likely to be adopted from a shelter than dogs who don't. It's possible that people with puppy dog eyes are just more effective at looking cute than other people. 

So are the shapes of your eyes the key to your fate? Or are they just another way of looking adorable? You can decide for yourself. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.