Matsumoto Castle takes high ground in Instagram battle

Matsumoto Castle has overtaken Kumamoto Castle in Instagram followers, topping the list of Japan's historic fortresses for the first time.

Matsumoto Castle, a designated national treasure in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, was built more than 400 years ago. The castle is known for its pitch-black exterior.

Officials of Matsumoto City reported that Instagram users following the castle's account surpassed that of Kumamoto Castle in southwestern Japan on May 28. As May 31, the account had 28,918 followers, 591 more than Kumamoto Castle.

Matsumoto Castle has overtaken Kumamoto Castle in Instagram followers.

Three city officials manage Matsumoto Castle's Instagram account, which launched in 2021. They post photos of the castle across the four seasons and events that are likely to attract attention.

Among its 600 posts, a photo showing the castle covered in snow has garnered more than 78,000 likes.

Matsumoto City has been working to attract overseas tourists. A record 160,000 of them visited the castle last fiscal year that ran through March.

The Instagram account of Matsumoto Castle includes hashtags in English, Chinese, Thai and other languages. Foreigners make up about 20 percent of its followers.

A visitor from Mexico praised the photos on Instagram, noting their beauty. She believes the captivating images will inspire people outside Japan to visit the castle.

City official Kobayashi Mika welcomes the social media success. "I hope many people will come and see the actual Matsumoto Castle."

Matsumoto City official Kobayashi Mika hopes Instagram followers will visit the castle in person.

Kumamoto Castle pledges to retake top slot

In Kumamoto City—host city of Kumamoto Castle—residents couldn't hide their disappointment.

"I believe Kumamoto Castle is the best castle not only in Japan but also in the world, so I hope it will regain the top position soon," one woman told NHK. Another woman said she is eager to work with others to retake the top spot.

Residents of Kumamoto City expressed their disappointment.

Kumamoto Castle was built in 1607 by warlord Kato Kiyomasa. It was seriously damaged by earthquakes eight years ago. Renovation work is scheduled to be completed by 2038.

The official Kumamoto Castle Instagram account opened in 2015. It had 28,327 followers as of May 31.

Kumamoto Castle is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

Officials attribute the usurping of its social media ranking to a lack of overseas followers. They plan to work on posting content that will attract an international audience.

"We are happy that the popularity of castles is increasing," the castle officials said in a comment. "We will continue to promote our castle through friendly competition with other castles. We will definitely regain our dominance! Please follow us on Instagram!"