Japan’s social media travel guide

Snaplace is a Japanese travel guide dedicated to indexing locations for social media photography. Drawing on the logic of the Japanese term “Instabae” インスタ映え which translates as “social media friendly”, the website has compiled a vast array of attractions both in Japan and internationally which have the capacity to assist self-presentation on social media. The site provides maps showing the location of  “instabae” sites as well as information on how to photograph for social media and how to present photographs online.

Snaplace uses maps with coloured icons to show social media friendly attractions:

instabe map bigger.jpg

Map of the Japanese island of Kyushu with location preview.

The maps differentiate between 3 varieties of location. These are:

1. “Cool!” denotes locations where one can find hip or eye-catching subjects. These locations are reminiscent of Japanese celebrity-culture or current consumer trends and encompass places like resorts, architecture, concept hotels or restaurants, and eateries with showpiece menu items/ décor/ murals.


2. “Haha!” are spots which have unique, quirky or sub-cultural subject matter. These are places which offer a strange or niche experiences such as unique business, venues with regional specialities, specialty restaurants/cafes or one of a kind tours/experiences.


3. “Basic” comprises of more traditional sightseeing locations such as views, monuments, attractions and famous restaurants. These are iconic locations which are likely well-known or covered in traditional sightseeing guides. 


The site is well-populated and easy to use. Clicking on a location provides a brief description of the site and may link to recent social media posts tagging this location. Aside from the index of locations found in the maps, there are different themed guides (e.g. 41 unique cafes/ Spots that look good in the rain) that assist in finding particular experiences. Clicking in on a location provides a variety of information about the site and how it suits social media. Take the “Cool!” location Good Town Bakehouse, a cafe in the fashionable Tokyo suburb of Shibuya (original in Japanese, English through Google Translate):

good town bakehouse.jpg

In its location descriptions, information about the best angles or subjects for taking photos accompany a brief backstory on the location. Below which Instagram and Twitter feeds provide user content tagged at the location.

good town bake house insta.jpg

From Instagram

good town twitter.jpg
And Twitter  (with previews of different sites below)

Through the explicit focus on the social media representations/ representability of a location, and the wider context of the website (such as the guides for photography and online self-presentation), photographing, recording and sharing one’s visit are presented as key components of visitation. By combining the dictions of a travel guide and primer for online self-presentation, Snaplace supports  the consumptive mode of sightsharing.

To expand here, it might be interesting to consider Manovich’s (2017) 3 types of Instagram images which appear to share a correlation with the categorisations used by Snaplace:  Cool/Design, Haha/Casual, Basic/ Professional.