How To Tell If You Have Sanpaku Eyes — And What They Mean For Your Future

Princess Diana, JFK and Charles Manson all had them.

Princess Diana's sanpaku eyes YouTube

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. But what if certain parts of the eye are windows to a person's fate?

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

What are sanpaku eyes?

Sanpaku gan (三白眼) or sanpaku (三白) is a Japanese term meaning "three whites," and is use to described eyes with a white portion visible either above or below the colored portion.


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

In Korean, the same phenomenon is known as sambaegan eyes.

In 1965, Japanese macrobiotic theorist George Ohsawa published a book called "You Are All Sanpaku," 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 writes. "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 stated that sanpaku conditions could be solved by adhering to a macrobiotic diet.

What do sanpaku eyes mean?

According to Ohsawa, sclera visible above or below the eye is a sign of imbalance in the body.

Alternatively Asian face reading tradition holds that sanpaku eyes may offer a hint into the fate of the person in question, although whether white is showing above or below the iris means different things.


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Yin Sanpaku Eyes

Eyes with white showing below the iris are called "yin sanpaku eyes."

This feature is allegedly common in alcoholics and drug addicts. It is thought by some that people with yin sanpaku eyes are likely to place themselves in dangerous situations, and may not survive the danger.


Yang Sanpaku Eyes

Eyes with white showing above the iris are called "yang sanpaku eyes."

For people with yang sanpaku eyes, the danger they may face comes from within. People with eyes like this are said to be violent, filled with rage and may even be more likely to be psychopaths.

Sanpaku Eyes vs. "Normal" Eyes

It should be stated explicitly that sanpaku eyes are definitely normal. Still, some wonder what the differences are. In truth, other than when caused by certain medical conditions, the only thing that distinguishes sanpaku eyes from "normal" eyes is their appearance.

The picture below shows Princess Diana and Billie Eilish, both of whom are known for having sanpaku eyes, above Kourtney Kardashian and Cate Blanchette, both of whom do not.


sanpaku eyes vs normal eyesPhoto: YouTube/Kathy Hutchins on Shutterstock/Getty

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How rare are sanpaku eyes?

There doesn't seem to be any solid data on how rare or common sanpaku eyes are, but they certainly don't seem to be particularly uncommon.

Famous People With Sanpaku Eyes

Many famous people are known for having sanpaku eyes, including Princess Diana and Billie Eilish.


Princess Diana in particular was often photographed with the lower whites of her eyes clearly visible, and her life's story does seem to fit the predicted fate of those with yin sanpaku eyes.

President John F. Kennedy also had yin sanpaku eyes, and Ohsawa actually claimed to have predicted his death in 1963.

John F Kennedy sanpaku eyesPhoto: Scanned from 1964 Warren Commission report (Government printing office), Public Domain


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.

JFK also suffered from Addison's disease, an endocrine disorder marked by insufficient adrenal gland function, and after his death it was revealed he also had hypothyroidism.

Ill health is said to be one of the hallmarks of having sanpaku eyes like his.

A notable example of yang sanpaku eyes, those with the white showing on top of their iris, is Charles Manson.

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


Charles Manson sanpaku eyesPhoto: By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Public Domain

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.

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Could there be other causes for sanpaku eyes?

Obviously, there are all kinds of reasons a person's eye shape might look a certain way, and in fact, your eyes can look different from one moment, picture and/or angle 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.

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


Or the shape of someone's eye can may 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 also cause eye-bulging that makes the sclera seem more prominent.

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 à la 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 does the shape of your eyes predict your fate, or are they just nature's way of making you look 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.