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HQ 558923

May 11, 1995

CLA-2 CO:R:C:S 558923 BLS


TARIFF NO.: 9810.00.25

District Director of Customs
U.S. Customs Service
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island, CA 90731

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-94-102298; applicability of subheading 9810.00.25, HTSUS, to sliding doors, paper rolling screens, and wooden blinds; Buddhist Church; altar; appurtenances

Dear Sir:

This is in reference to an Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-94-102298, dated August 25, 1994, concerning the eligibility for duty-free treatment under subheading 9810.00.25, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of certain sliding doors, paper rolling screens, and wooden blinds. Protestant claims that these imported items should be considered appurtenances to an altar, used by the West Los Angeles Buddhist Church in its religious ceremonies.


The subject items are described on the commercial invoice as "Buddhist Temple Fittings", and photographs of the same, physically joined to the altar, are submitted. Counsel states the following with respect to the requirements of the Buddhist religion, Jodo-Shin-Shu Sect:

Each temple, church shall have what is known as an NAIJIN. The Japanese term NAIJIN translates into the word altar. The NAIJIN is the most sacred and significant part of the Buddhist temple or church. The design of the NAIJIN is specifically dictated by religious laws and requirements. The only variations permitted are the quality of the materials used to make the NAIJIN and its size.

The NAIJIN is built on a raised foundation at the front of the temple or church. It is designed as a complete enclosure which is large enough to house various
religious articles, including chairs for the religious clergy, lamps, paintings, and a Buddha. The NAIJIN is closed off at the front by specially made paper rolling screens (Makishoji), which are typically painted in black lacquer, decorated with metal ornaments and covered in rice paper. NAIJINs which are located in larger temples require sliding screen doors (Fusima) at the sides of the NAIJIN, which are covered with a heavy rice paper which is either plain gold or painted with Phoenix birds. Both the Makishoji and the Fusima are essential components of a complete NAIJIN, since the NAIJIN must be closed off completely when it is not in use. During religious services the Makishoji and the Fusima are opened and the religious clergy are permitted to enter the NAIJIN to perform various religious rituals. Only religious clergy, and not members of the congregation, are permitted to enter the NAIJIN. The NAIJIN also has blinds, known as Misu, which are suspended above the cross beams of the two front pillars. The Misu are made of thin strips of bamboo edged in brocade. They have both historical and religious significance.

Protestant has also submitted a copy of a letter from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, certifying that the Buddhist Church of America, which includes its subsidary organizations, qualifies as a non-profit religious organization exempt from U.S. taxes. The West Los Angeles Buddhist Church is a subsidiary of the Buddhist Church of America. Additional supporting documentation confirms the religious purposes of this subsidiary church.


Whether the imported paper rolling screens (Makishoji), sliding screen doors (Fusima), and wooden blinds (Misu) are considered parts or appurtenances of the altar, for purposes of determining whether such articles are eligible for duty-free treatment under subheading 9810.00.25, HTSUS.


Subheading 9810.00.25, HTSUS, provides for the duty-free entry of certain "[a]rticles for the use of an institution organized and operated for religious purposes ...." However, this provision is limited to specific articles such as "[a]ltars, pulpits, communion tables, baptismal fonts, shrines..., or parts, appurtenances or adjuncts of any of the foregoing...." The courts have held that the term "appurtenances" and "adjuncts" describe articles which belong, pertain, or relate to another article.

The photographs and description of the subject articles reflect that they are part of the altar used by the West Los Angeles Buddhist Church in connection with the religious ceremonies performed. In a telephonic communication with this office, the Reverend Tsuji of the Ekoji Buddhist Church, Springfield, Virginia, a former Bishop of the Buddhist Church of America,
verified that the articles in question are integral parts of the Naijin.

Accordingly, we find that the Makishoji (paper rolling screens), Fusima (sliding screen doors), and Misu (wooden blinds), are parts and appurtenances of the altar used during religious ceremonies of the West Los Angeles Buddhist Church.


The imported paper rolling screens, sliding screen doors, and wooden blinds are "...parts, appurtenances or adjuncts..." of the altar used for religious ceremonies of the West Los Angeles Buddhist Church. Accordingly, since the altar is specified under subheading 9810.00.25, HTSUS, as an article used for an institution organized and operated for religious purposes, it is entitled to duty-free treatment under this provision. Therefore, the protest should be granted in full.

In accordance with Section 3A (11) (b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director

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