And kanji with manga
Sunday, January 26, 2020

shihakugan 四白眼

In Japanese, shihakugan 四白眼, "four-white eyes," refers to having such small irises that they're surrounded by the white of the eye at all four sides—left, right, top, and bottom. It's also read yonpakugan.

Endou Saya 遠藤サヤ, example of tiny irises, shihakugan 四白眼.
Anime: Dagashikashi だがしかし (Episode 2)


The term shihakugan is related to a more common term, sanpakugan 三白眼, which refers to having white on three sides surrounding your iris.

The basic idea is that, when you're looking straight forward, the number of sides around your iris that are white—in other words: that have visible "sclera," shirome 白目—determines whether it's shihakugan, sanpakugan, or just your normal, average eye.

Diagram showing the difference between sanpaku eyes, shita-sanpakugan 下三白眼, ue-sanpakugan 上三白眼, and shihakugan 四白眼.

Both terms can be used toward real people and anime characters alike.

Since sanpakugan is sometimes called "sanpaku eyes" in English, shihakugan would be "shihaku eyes."

One thing worth noting, though, is that by its definition, a character with large irises is technically shihakugan so long as their eyes are humongous enough to completely contain those large irises, plus some extra white space.

Gon Freecss ゴン=フリークス, example of large irises at the middle of even larger eyes.
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011) (Episode 1)
  • Gon Freecss and his large, non-tangential irises.

However, when people use the term shihakugan in practice, it normally refers to a character that has extremely small irises instead.

Simon シモン, example of tiny irises, shihakugan 四白眼.
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, 天元突破グレンラガン (Episode 3)


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