This weekend, more than 580,000 Japanese high-school seniors will take the country’s standardized university-entrance exam, known as the National Center Test for University Admissions. This test, commonly referred to simply as the “Center Test,” is the culmination of years of intense preparation that begins as early as kindergarten. Mothers pray in special Shinto shrines for their children’s success, and students buy daruma dolls, meant to keep evil spirits and demons away, to bring themselves good luck.