It is a regular practice of the Japanese retired to form a morning hiking group to daily ascend a nearby mountain. Takatori mountain is a particularly popular spot as the surrounding neighborhoods are traditional and local, and perched at the summit is a centuries old shrine looking out over Kobe city. Every morning the hiker will be greeted by dozens of Ohayo!s, bleated with particular gusto on Saturdays and Sundays. A special treat 2/3 of the way up are two eating/drinking places where members of the older generation gather to drink beer and play Shogi (chess) from the morning. The beer is carried up and down by a man in his 70's and his wife in special shoulderbags designed to hold a dozen or so of the large bottles. A visitor would be hard-pressed to find a more local watering hole, and entering can feel like walking into a saloon in a small town in the west, but once inside the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Hanshin Railway to Kosoku Nagata station or the Kobe Chikatetsu (subway) to Nagata station. Follow the signs to Nagata Jinja (shrine), a famous destination in itself, and from there head toward the highest mountain visible behind. If you keep heading up (the hill), you are bound to run into the footpath which continues to the summit and beyond.