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If eyes are the windows to the soul, what do your eyes say about you? Well, a Japanese superstition called “sanpaku” could be the answer. Sanpaku translates to “three whites,” and refers to being able to see white either above or below the iris. With two different types, yin sanpaku and yang sanpaku, this theory can predict your fate. So, do you have sanpaku eyes, and if so what do they mean?

The Origin

This theory was brought to the West by Japanese author George Ohsawa. Ohsawa is famous for creating the microbiotic diet, which he theorized could cure sanpaku. Although the theory is more popular in the West than Japan, according to Tofugu, it has been mystifying people since the ’60s.

Originally a form of Asian face reading tradition, sanpaku can indicate whether a person is in danger, or a danger to others. Additionally, a person with sanpaku suffers from in imbalance of their entire system, be it physical, physiological or spiritual. Ohsawa himself described it as “a warning, a sign from nature, that one’s life is threatened by an early and tragic end.”

In fact, Ohsawa claimed that he predicted the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe in the early ’60s. Both icons had “yin sanpaku,” and both died tragic deaths at an early age.

Yin and Yang

Yin Sanpaku refers to the appearance of white below the iris. Simply put, this means that the world is out to get you. According to Your Tango, it refers to an imbalance within the body. This phenomena is common among alcoholics and drug addicts, who can often put themselves in dangerous situations. Therefore, they are in danger from the outside world.











Famous examples of this sanpaku are Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Princess Diana, Abraham Lincoln, and even Billie Eilish. Some fans of Eilish are beginning to worry after the reemergence of this theory on TikTok.

The other form, yang sanpaku, refers to the appearance of white above the iris. In this instance, the danger comes from within. Supposedly, people affected with yang sanpaku are filled with rage and lead violent lives. They are allegedly unable to control their emotions, leading them to do horrible things.

One famous example of yang sanpaku comes from Charles Manson. Notorious for his Family and the heinous murders they committed, Manson is often shown with a crazed look in his eyes. Most notable, however, is the visual of white above his eyes.

Possible Explanations

Along with any superstition comes its skeptics. However, this theory has some pretty interesting explanations for sanpaku’s emergence.

One explanation is ectropion, or the drooping of the lower eyelid. This condition is common in older adults because as humans age, we lose the elasticity in our skin. Paired with the loss of muscle tone, this causes the lower eyelid to droop, revealing more of the sclera, or white portion of the eye. Also common in older adults are lipid deposits, called corneal arcus. This condition causes a white ring to form around the cornea, enhancing the appearance of the sclera. However, this is just a byproduct of aging according to Washington City Paper.

A few more explanations are also health-related. Retraction of the lower lid can stem from cosmetic surgery, leading to the appearance of yin sanpaku. Additionally exophthalmos, or the bulging of the eyeball, can be caused by an immune disorder.

The final explanation could be evolution. Contrary to the colored sclera of humanity’s ancestor, the ape, our eyes are clearer and brighter. Science explains that this is a result of the evolution of communication. Humans are able to communicate better through eye contact, and the clearer the sclera, the clearer the message.

So, whether this theory is plausible or not, it is a great example of humanity’s search for answers in all walks of life. And who knows, maybe Billie Eilish will end up living a long, successful life despite the increased danger her yin sanpaku might suggest.

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