Sanpaku Eyes: The Fascinating History and Cultural Significance of This Eye Trend


Sanpaku eyes, also known as “three whites,” are a unique eye phenomenon that has fascinated people for centuries. This eye condition, in which the upper or lower sclera is exposed around the iris, has a rich history and cultural significance in Japanese and Chinese traditions. In this comprehensive article, we examine the origins of the sunpako eye, the beliefs associated with it, and its various interpretations over time.

Origin and historical significance

sanpaku eyes

Sanpaku eyes have their roots in ancient Chinese and Japanese facial readings, where the appearance of the white of the eye below or above the iris indicates an imbalance in a person’s physical or mental well-being. According to this practice, individuals with a lower scleral show were associated with physical imbalances, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or excessive sugar and grain consumption. On the other hand, those with an upper scleral show were thought to have mental imbalances, including anger and psychotic tendencies. It was further believed that such people are prone to accidents and violence.

Popularity of George Ohsawa and Sanpaku Eyes

In the mid-1960s, George Ohsawa, a Japanese macrobiotic theorist, introduced the term “sanpaku” to the English-speaking world. Ohsawa published a book titled “You Are All Sanpaku”, in which he discussed what are sanpaku eyes and the condition and its implications. He claimed that people with these eyes are out of balance physically, mentally and spiritually, which can lead to illness, unhappiness and even tragic ends. Ohsawa’s prediction of President John F. Kennedy’s threat based on his status attracted considerable attention. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, Ohsawa’s ideas gained popularity and became associated with the concept of these eyes.

Famous People with Sanpaku Eyes

1. Aubrey Plaza

3. Jeremy Allen White

4. Lisa (Blackpink)

5. Princess Diana

6. John F. Kennedy

sanpaku eyes

Sanpaku eyes have found their way into popular culture, fueling their mysticism and intrigue. In the music world, John Lennon mentioned Sanpaku eyes in his song “Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)” and Michael Franks referenced them in his song “Sanpaku”. They have also featured in literature, with William Gibson briefly mentioning squint eyes in his novel “Neuromancer” and Ken Casey in his short story “Now We Know How Many Holes It Takes to Fill the Albert Hall”. I also include references. In the film “Gia” (1998), Angelina Jolie portrayed supermodel Gia Carangi, who purposely pushed her eyes back to create a “Sanpaku” look for photographs.

What Causes Sanpaku Eyes

The exact causes of these eyes can vary and include natural factors, physical trauma, etc. Natural causes of these eyes can be attributed to an individual’s anatomy, such as the position of the iris and the shape of the eye socket. Physical trauma or injuries to the eye area can also result in these eyes. Additionally, certain medical conditions or craniofacial anomalies can contribute to the appearance of puffy eyes.

Can you fix sanpaku eyes?

Get expert advice on nutrition that targets sanpaku eyes. Learn about essential nutrients, superfoods, and dietary adjustments that promote eye health and reduce the appearance of Sanpaku.

Significance of sanpaku eyes today

In modern times, belief in the significance of sanpaku eyes has been lost, and there is no scientific evidence to support traditional interpretations. Medical professionals consider exposure of the sclera above or below the iris to be a natural variation and a normal occurrence. Sanpako eyes, as observed in many individuals, do not require corrective care unless there are complications from an underlying health condition, physical trauma, or cosmetic eyelid surgery.

The cooperative eye hypothesis

The cooperative eye hypothesis provides an evolutionary explanation for why eyes, including these eyes, have the appearance they do. According to this hypothesis, the visible white sclera enhances communication by allowing people to track each other’s gaze during conversation. It helps make better eye contact and helps convey non-verbal cues and emotions.

What are the Myths about Sanpaku Eyes?

Let’s explore a few of the widespread misconceptions about Sanpaku Eyes:

One of the most common beliefs about these Eyes is that they may foretell a person’s unfortunate fate or premature death. If the white of the eye is seen above or below the iris, it denotes oncoming peril, according to this belief. Such forecasts, however, lack a scientific foundation and are thus only superstition not reality.

A persistent belief holds that a person’s Sanpaku Eyes may disclose their personality characteristics. It’s commonly believed that people with Sanpaku Eyes are more prone to anxiety, impulsivity, or accidents. In actuality, one cannot judge a person’s character just by the location of their eyes.

Some people think that these Eyes are a sign of bad health or bodily imbalances. According to this urban legend, those with these Eyes are more prone to diseases or mental disorders. However, eye appearance is not used by medical practitioners as a diagnostic tool for illnesses.

Sanpaku Eyes have cultural significance because they are frequently connected to Eastern spirituality and philosophy, giving the impression that they are connected to a more profound spiritual or mystical connection. Even though they could have cultural importance in specific situations, this doesn’t always equate to magical abilities or insights.

According to certain stories, Sanpaku Eyes are hereditary characteristics that are passed down through generations. Sanpaku Eyes, as they are traditionally understood, are more impacted by the form and location of the eyes than by strict genetic inheritance, even if some eye features can be inherited.

It’s important to keep in mind that while the idea of these Eyes has cultural and historical roots, many of the myths and beliefs around it are unfounded. Making conclusions or predictions simply based on how someone’s eyes seem might promote baseless prejudices and misconceptions, thus people should exercise caution while doing so.


These eyes continue to captivate our curiosity due to their rich history and cultural significance. Although the traditional beliefs associated with these type of eyes have been lost in modern times, the phenomenon itself remains an interesting topic of debate. As we explore different interpretations and associations, it is important to approach the topic with an understanding of its historical context and cultural significance. Whether one considers these type of eyes to be a sign of fate and imbalance or simply a natural variation, they continue to inspire fascination and artistic expression in various forms of media.

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