Okutsuso Ryokan boasts a rare hot spring known as the kagi-yu (locked bath) of Tadamasa Mori, who was the lord of Tsuyama domain in the Edo period. He guarded the bath to ensure he had exclusive use of it. Why is it so special? The water wells up directly from the rocks at the bottom of the bath and so is not exposed to air – this means it does not get oxidized and thus is considered pure. Out of 35,000 hot spring hotels in Japan, this kind of “natural” onsen is only found in a few dozen. As for the beef cuisine, Okayama has developed its own signature style. Enjoy a nine-course meal, featuring a variety of beef dishes including sozuri nabe (hot pot made with slices of beef pared from the bone) as well as blowfish, a seasonal specialty.