A group of Monks from Dazaifu in the Tsukushi province (today Fukuoka prefecture) is on its way to the Kitano Tenmangū, a shrine in Kyoto where the deified spirit of Sugawara no Michizane (845–903) is enshrined. The same deity is worshipped in at the Dazaifu Tenmangū. After being led inside the shrine by a Temple Servant, they meet an Old Man worshipping in front of a rinzō, a revolving repository where sacred Buddhist scriptures (sutra) are stored. The Old Man declares to be Katen (lit. Fire Deity), a deity protecting the sutra. Katen promises to open the rinzō hall and allow the monks to worship the over five thousand sutras kept inside, overnight. Then, he explains how Buddhism was transmitted from India to the East. Three mythical characters, Fudaiji and his sons Fuken and Fujō, protected the sutras during their long journey, until they reached Japan and were stored at Kitano Tenmangū.
Fukube no kami, a lesser deity, appears and explains in simple words how the sacred scriptures reached Kitano Tenmangū. At night, the doors of the shrine open, and Fudaiji, Fuken, and Fujō appear. First Fuken and Fujō deliver a box containing sacred scriptures to the Monk and recite a prayer, then Fudaiji performs a solemn dance.
Then, Katen appears from the heavens in his real form and spins the rinzō. The Monks walk around the repository. When the monks finish reading all the sutras, Katen displays his power through a short movement sequence, then returns to the heavens, urging the Monks to praise the shrine.
Although nō is famous for its essential stage design, in this play a large stage property representing the rinzō is used. Since the rinzō is thought to have been invented by the lay priest Fudaiji in China at the time of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, his statue, as well as those of his two sons Fuken and Fujō can often be found inside the sutra repository hall. This kind of structure was created so that it would be possible to be exposed to the blessings of the sutra by spinning them around, without the need of reading them one by one.
During the Japanese middle-ages, Kitano Tenmangū was a place of worship representing the syncretic religious view of the time, comprising both Buddhist and Shintō beliefs. A hall containing the rinzō and its large collection of sutras, was built by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). When a fire broke out at the shrine, the rinzō remained unburned, and people believed that this was due to the power of the sacred scriptures it contained.
The scene where all the characters walk around the rinzō is the climax of the second half of the play and may have been based on the desire of the people to receive the blessings of rinzō. The elegant gaku dance by Fudaiji and the maibataraki powerful movement sequence by Katen are also special features of the play.
The author of the play is Kanze Nagatoshi (1488-1541). Rinzō is currently performed by the Kanze school only. The rinzō of Kitano Tenmangū no longer exists.