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.
In most ways, Gotanda stands out from neighbouring regions in remaining very Japanese. Traditional Tokyo bars that are big enough for only a half-dozen people still exist in Gotanda while they have mostly vanished from other neighbourhoods. While Gotanda shopping lacks name brand attractions, it does feature very Japanese businesses selling miso paste, and others that sell obscure Japanese brands of knives. Some businesses in Gotanda would be unimaginable in other countries, such as the "puppy rental" stores that will rent you a young dog to walk for an hour or two.
Local festivities include the spring-time hanami festivities along the Meguro river's straight trajectory through Nishi-Gotanda. Locals emerge in great numbers to set up small picnics among the flowering cherry trees that line the river's banks. In the autumn, small street festivals serve amusements and treats along the crowded avenues and in limited public spaces.
Gotanda is served by a post office and a number of banks. It has a large Tsutaya (a large movie-rental chain). The area around the station is served by a Tokyu Store (grocery and department store) and the Tokyo Outlet Center. Kanto Medical Center is a large hospital to the north. Smaller clinics—including a dental clinic—are near the university.