The JR loop severs the neighbourhood into two districts. Higashi (East) Gotanda lies inside the Yamanote loop, while Nishi (West) Gotanda is outside the loop. Nishi-Gotanda is largely residential, with moderately-sized apartment buildings close to the JR station and quiet leafy streets in the outlying reaches. Higashi-Gotanda is home to Seisen University, NTT East Kanto Hospital, several temples and shrines and as many office towers like a mid-sized North American city. Higashi-Gotanda also has a substantial number of hotels, including some of the famed capsule hotel style. Some of the buildings making up the sprawling world headquarters of Sony are found along the eastern edge of Higashi-Gotanda.
One of Tokyo's busy major avenues (Sakurada dori—part of Japan's National Highway No. 1) passes through both halves of Gotanda, carrying traffic between the inner business districts ringing the Imperial Palace grounds and the outlying areas of Shinagawa-ku, Ōta-ku and beyond that the enormous city of Yokohama.
Gotanda Station therefore sees far more commuter traffic than the size and unremarkable nature of the neighbourhood would otherwise suggest.