A group of Monks offering sacred scriptures to temples and shrines across the country is traveling from Nara to Kawachi (present-day Osaka Pref.). They decide to pay their respects to the Tatsuta Deity. As they are about to cross the Tatsuta River, a Woman appears, requesting that they stop. They should let the crimson leaves on the surface of the river float unperturbed. The Monks reply that it is already the twelfth month, the red foliage season is past, and ice has formed on the surface of the river, so it should be safe to cross, but the Woman insists that they should not step on the red leaves trapped in the icy river. Since ancient times poets have praised the beauty of the autumn foliage of Tatsuta. Its beauty can appease the Deity who lives here. It would be inconsiderate to ignore such a thing. The Woman declares to be a shrine priestess serving at the Tatsuta Shrine. She offers to lead the Monks to the shrine, showing them how the leaves are still bright red despite the late season. As the Monks offer a prayer to the Deity, the Woman reveals to be the "Tatsuta Princess", then disappears.
A Local Man appears and relates stories about Tatsuta Deity. He then urges the Monks to keep praying for the Deity. Night has fallen, and the Tatsuta Deity in female form appears, praising the scene. She dances the sacred kagura, then disappears at dawn.
The bright red colors of the autumn foliage pervade the play. The Deity of Tatsuta is worshipped in the Ikoma Village (Nara Pref.) is thought to appear in the form of the "Tatsuta Princess", making the leaves turn red in autumn. The scene in which the deity appears as a village woman preventing the monks from crossing the river is memorable. In the second half of the play the Deity dances while praising the scene. Not only red leaves but also other aspects of the natural scenery of Tatsuta, for example, its cherry blossoms in spring, are praised in classical literature. The kagura dance performed in the second half of the play begins with a slow and solemn tempo, only to change to a faster rhythm later. In some performance variants, the dance follows the same pace until the end.
The costumes worn by the Woman and by the Deity are orange and red, with the addition of gold thread decorations. The Deity wears a headpiece decorated with golden ornaments and red maple leaves.
The text of the play refers to Ama no sakahoko, the “Celestial down-turned spear” used by the gods Izanagi and Izanami to create the earth. At the time of the creation of this play, the Tatsuta Deity was thought to be protecting the spear.