n. Feelings of relatedness and affection between two people, particularly a mother and a child, caused by hugging, touching, and other forms of physical contact.
Cathedrals of the Flesh, by Alexia Brue (Bloomsbury; $24.95). This entertaining picaresque chronicles the author's mostly naked reconnaissance of the world's public baths, from cavernous marble Turkish hamams and smoky Helsinki saunas to militantly hot Moscow banyas and a New York bathhouse of dubious hygiene. … Brue's depiction of herself as a bumbling innocent abroad isn't entirely believable, but her approach to other cultures is refreshingly humble, and her devotion to the pleasures of bathing with strangers makes a seductive case for "skinship," in which, naked together in the same water, "you do away with all the normal social barriers in life."
Kawabata said it was sad that the nation is losing the "skinship" of public bathing. "Some children on school trips to Tokyo who come here even enter the bath with their pants on, because they've never taken a communal bath and are embarrassed," he said. "Young people don't have a chance to learn the social manners to be gained from bathing together."
Skinship is a Japanese/English word developed during a World Health Organization meeting in Japan in 1940. It describes the physical closeness between a mother and her child. When a child receives an abundance of skinship, the child is better able to handle stressful situations and will mature into an emotionally stable adult.