Properly, rice paper is a non-fibrous, delicate, paperlike material made from the pith of a small Asian tree or shrub, Tetrapanax papyriferum, that is widely cultivated in China and Japan. Although the tree is colloquially known as a "rice paper tree", it's actually a type of bamboo. The pith is cut into thin layers with a sharp knife. Today, rice paper is often manufactured to resemble handmade rice paper with its textured surface and soft edges. Makes attractive lampshades and giftwrap.
Rice paper is also a type of thin edible sheet manufactured in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. Rice paper sheets have an almost plastic-like texture, a basket weave pattern on one surface (because they're dried on woven mats), and a round or triangular shape. Reconstituted in water, they are used for wrapping delicious spring rolls.
A rice paper ceiling prevents non-Japanese employees of a Japanese company from rising in the corporate hierarchy. The rice paper ceiling arises from ethnocentrism and xenophobia, and is reinforced by the differences between Japanese and gaijin corporate and interpersonal culture.